By Nick Emmons, WBZ-TV


BOSTON (CBS) – Local college students are caught up in the middle of the coronavirus crisis in Italy. More than 300 people have been infected, and 11 deaths have been reported.

Many of the cases are in the northern region, not far from where Boston College junior Catherine Schofield has been studying in Parma. “There’s kind of a subtle panic on everyone’s face,” said Schofield.

Schofield arrived in Parma last month for a six month study abroad program. She never expected to get a crash course in a global health crisis. “For now we’re staying put. I’m not really sure what will happen because already on Sunday this was not a problem, and now it’s Tuesday and it’s a huge problem,” she said.

Catherine Schofield in Italy (Image credit Catherine Schofield)

The uncertainty prompted Suffolk University to cancel an Italy trip planned for next month. Sophomore Allie Olive was supposed to go. “They have concerns about us not being able to come back to the Unites States if we go there,” Olive said. “And obviously health concerns. They don’t want anyone to get sick.”

Olive said she will get her money back for the 10 day Italy course, but she’s uncertain about her flights, which she paid for on her own separately. She said some classmates were told by their airline that they couldn’t get a refund, “unless it gets worse.”

For Catherine Schofield, even if she wanted to come home early, she’s concerned the trip alone could put her at risk of exposure. “To leave you’d have to go through maybe Milan or Florence, and that would likely involve a bus, a train, and a flight,” Schofield said. “Is that worth the risk to get to a place that might be safer?”

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