Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center (JFRC) will open for students to study abroad during the fall 2021 semester after nearly three semesters closed, but only for students who are fully vaccinated, according to an email sent out by the university.
Back in February 2020, students living at the JFRC were abruptly sent back to the U.S. when the COVID-19 pandemic began its spread in Italy, The Phoenix reported.
Loyola’s Office of Global and Community Engagement — the office that manages study abroad — has been closely monitoring COVID-19 to see if the study abroad programs can be safely offered to students for the fall, the email said.
Loyola will require all students to receive a full COVID-19 vaccination at least two weeks before arriving in Rome and mandate all students and staff to participate in weekly COVID-19 testing provided at the JFRC. Loyola will also only be providing single occupancy dorms and follow Italian COVID-19 protocols, according to the email.
The email said students are encouraged to plan for fall study abroad in Rome but also make back-up plans in Chicago in case the Rome campus is unable to open. The university said a definite decision about reopening JFRC will be made on or before June 15.
Apart from the JFRC, all other study abroad options will remain suspended, including Loyola’s Vietnam Center, according to the email.
Study abroad at the Vietnam Center will be suspended due to the complexities of making a safe environment for students there, the email said. Loyola’s university partners in Vietnam also had a number of concerns over bringing students there, including local health conditions, travel restrictions in Vietnam and the lack of information on COVID-19 vaccination plans in Vietnam, according to the email.
Students who were selected to go to Vietnam in fall 2021 will be given priority admission into the spring 2022 or fall 2022 program, the email said.
The suspension of all other programs comes due to concerns over student safety, U.S. State Department travel advisories and worries about COVID-19 vaccine access in other countries.