Gonzaga University has suspended its study abroad program in Italy due to the continuing spread of the COVID-19. 

GU said in a release that the Gonzaga-in-Florence program will be suspended for the entire spring 2020 semester and 161 currently-enrolled students are being asked to return home. 

“For the safety of our students, faculty and staff, we made the difficult decision to suspend the program,” said Deena González, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president. “Along with a number of other American universities with programs in Florence, we are concerned that by remaining in Florence, our students are at risk for in-country quarantines, limitations on travel, and limited access to basic services.”

"All Florence students are requested to make immediate plans to travel back to their home residence," an update on GU's website reads.

Gonzaga-in-Florence staff says they will pack up students' belongings and ship them home at a later date upon request. GIF students are on spring break this week and some are traveling away from the Florence campus.

All academic courses at the Florence campus are suspended, effective immediately. On March 6, all pensiones and homestays will be closed for the remainder of the spring semester. Gonzaga anticipates providing students plans for continuation and completion of academic courses early in March. 

“We know this is a great disappointment to our students and we are doing everything we can to minimize disruption to their studies and their lives,” González said. “It is also important to provide a plan for academic continuity for our Florence students.”