Travel restrictions lead to suspension of UMass European programs

600 students affected

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(Collegian File Photo)

By Kathrine Esten, Assistant News Editor

The University of Massachusetts has suspended several programs in European countries following President Donald Trump’s announcement of new travel restrictions. The decision will affect approximately 600 students.

On Wednesday night, Trump made a presidential proclamation suspending most travel from Europe for 30 days, starting at midnight on March 13. Entry restrictions will not apply to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, but travelers may be subjected to additional health screening and may be required to travel through certain airports. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised the travel health warning for Schengen Area countries to a Level 3, which asks citizens to avoid non-essential travel.

Mark Eckman, the director of education abroad in the UMass International Programs Office, sent the email on Thursday morning to students in study abroad and exchange programs in Europe. The countries impacted by this decision include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

“The Department of Homeland Security has not yet released details on how these restrictions will be implemented. We will share this information as it becomes available, but the important thing to note is that unless you are an international student, you will be able to travel back to the United States even after tomorrow,” Eckman wrote in the email. “So please do not panic.”

“We are asking that all students make arrangements to leave the Schengen Area Countries as soon as possible for a return to the United States,” Eckman stated. International students were advised to book their return as soon as possible.

In the email, UMass offered students up to $500 assistance for flight changes or rebooking costs if their airline did not provide them with penalty-free charges.

As the University has suspended in-person classes and asked students not to return to campus after the upcoming spring break, study-abroad students have been asked to return to their permanent home address upon their return.

“Please note also that in common with guidance for all UMass travelers returning from a CDC Level 3 country, you should observe a self-quarantine of 14 days and monitor your health,” the email stated.

While information is not yet available for all programs concerning courses and credits, the University was “optimistic that in the vast majority of cases, our partners overseas will be able to allow you to complete your academic semester remotely.”

“Please bear in mind that this is an unprecedented and fast evolving situation that we are all having to deal with, and some of these details will take time to sort out,” the email stated.

Kathrine Esten can be reached at [email protected] followed on Twitter at @KathrineEsten.