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Photo courtesy of Toby Le

NYU Florence Closed Due to COVID-19 Concerns

NYU Abu Dhabi students were forced to suspend their study aways in Florence after the outbreak of COVID-19 in northern Italy.

Feb 29, 2020

On Feb. 24, NYU announced that it would suspend operations in its Florence site from Feb. 27 to until at least March 29. The decision was made after an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in Italy.
At the time of writing, there have been 888 confirmed cases of the virus in Italy, and 11 towns and villages in the Lombardy region have been put under quarantine. The news of NYU Florence’s suspension of operations comes roughly one month after NYU Shanghai announced that it would switch to remotely operated classes on Jan. 31.
In a press release, NYU spokesman John Beckman addressed the situation: “We have made a decision to cancel classes for the rest of the week at NYU Florence; to suspend operations at the campus on Thursday, February 27; to begin holding classes remotely starting on Monday, March 2 (the experience we've gained at NYU Shanghai should help with this); and to carry on in this manner until at least March 29, when we hope everyone can reconvene at Villa La Pietra.”
NYU Abu Dhabi student Toby Le, Class of 2022, who was studying abroad in Florence this semester, commented on this development
“The school’s response was sensible, precautionary and may be more beneficial in the long term. They followed standard protocol for each student and ensured that we knew what options were available to us. I respect that and appreciate the efforts that they have put in, because it is better to be safe than sorry,” said Le.
Le added that although the school’s response was warranted, the way in which the decision was communicated was subpar: “Firstly, we were emailed at 11 p.m. on a Monday [Feb. 24] and were immediately told that our classes would be put on hold, that our campus was closed, and that we should leave the country. Prior to this email, we had received no indication that an evacuation would be necessary nor did [NYU Florence] address the issue of the virus in any way previously except [for telling] us to be wary and avoid travel to Lombardy.”
This sentiment of uncertainty was echoed by Ellie Allen, Class of 2022, who was also studying in Florence at the time.
“I’m pretty exhausted as it’s been a stressful few days that went from 0-100 really quickly; now I just want to get home and [get] settled. People are unsure about whether they will get their flights reimbursed or what [and] how online classes [will] work [...] it’s just really frustrating [as] I had only just begun falling in love with the city,” said Allen.
The seven members of the NYUAD student body who were studying in Florence have all left Italy after being provided assistance for travel back to their countries of residence.
“As unfortunate as it is, this series of events could have occurred anywhere and it just happened to be in Florence. I urge all other NYUAD students currently abroad to take full advantage of the privilege they are currently enjoying because we can never predict what might happen next in these difficult times,” Le added.
Le sees the closing of the campus as unfortunate, but is grateful for the support he and the students in Florence received from the NYUAD community during this time of transition.
“These have been extremely trying times for me and our entire NYUAD in Florence group, but the support from our friends and other members of the community have been invaluable to keeping us calm and optimistic. In fact, the overwhelming responses and offers for assistance that I have received from my friends has reinforced my belief in the strength of NYUAD’s sense of community and support,” expressed Le.
Matthew Gubbins is News Editor. Email him at
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