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Coronavirus ‘Needs to Be Taken Seriously’: More Students Sent Home From Overseas

Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, has joined other schools across New England in calling for students in study abroad programs to return to the U.S. due to the coronavirus outbreak

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As concern over the coronavirus continues to grow, colleges across the region are cancelling trips and bringing students home from studying abroad.

That's the decision that was made late Wednesday night at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.

A college spokesman tells NBC10 Boston this is the first time that anyone at the school can remember cancelling a study abroad program due to health concerns.

Now, nearly two dozen students are making arrangements to fly home from Italy.

For some of the students on campus, the coronavirus seemed like a problem a world away, until they got an email from their school president.

"When we got the email this morning, I was like, 'Wow,'" said Saint Anselm junior Jennifer Peel.

"It was like, 'Oh my gosh, wow, this needs to be taken seriously,'" said junior Kaitlyn Petrocelli.

Saint Anselm College has decided to suspend its study abroad program in Italy since the number of coronavirus cases there is surging.

"This has spread so rapidly, so far, and so fast," said college spokesperson Paul Pronovost.

All 22 students must return to the Manchester campus by March 16 and finish their semester there.

"They were extremely excited, you know, it's always exciting to go abroad and study in new places, and now they are pretty upset," Peel said.

And the disappointment doesn't stop there.

A spring break trip to Rome that was supposed to leave Friday has also been cancelled.

"As things have developed and things have gotten more serious in Italy this week, we felt this was a prudent thing to do," Pronovost said.

Senior Tyler Miranda completed the study abroad program last spring.

"It was an amazing experience," he said.

He's disappointed for his classmates.

"I mean, they were supposed to have two more months," he said. "It's just awful."

But he and other students are encouraged by the school's decision to act fast.

"I agree with it because, obviously, we want everyone and all the students here to be safe," Peel said. "So I think these precautions are necessary."

Saint Anselm isn't the only school in the state making this difficult decision.

Southern New Hampshire University, the University of New Hampshire and Philips Exeter Academy are also cancelling trips abroad.

State health leaders say there are currently no possible cases of the coronavirus in New Hampshire and the risk of contracting the virus in the state is very low.

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