USC asks students abroad to come home following Trump address

All USC study abroad programs in continental Europe, including in Spain, the Netherlands and Greece, will require students to return to their home country, the Office of Overseas Studies announced Thursday in an email to students in the programs. 

This move comes after President Donald Trump’s Wednesday Oval Office address, which outlined U.S. measures in response to coronavirus. The United States has temporarily implemented a 30-day ban on noncitizens traveling from European countries, excluding the United Kingdom and Ireland, and U.S. citizens traveling from continental Europe will likely have to undergo health screenings if they arrive after midnight Friday. 

“Given these changes, we are asking USC students studying in Europe outside the UK to return home,” the email read.

According to the email, international students studying abroad have been asked to return to their home countries instead of the United States. 

Students in the Netherlands study abroad program have said they were told by Maastricht University that they will not receive credit for the current term of study, which will end in two and a half weeks. This is because Maastricht University has not stopped instruction or moved classes online and does not currently plan to for the remainder of the term. The status of credits for classes in the following and final term of instruction, which runs from April to June, remains undecided as Maastricht University evaluates how it will manage classes.

In a statement to the Daily Trojan, USC said student degree progress will be determined on a case-by-case basis. 

“We are making arrangements on an individualized basis for all returning students so they can continue their degree progress despite the mid-semester disruption,” the statement read. 

Students studying in the Netherlands have not received information from USC specifically related to their program.

The Basque government announced Thursday the closure of all educational centers in Basque Country until March 26. As a result, Universidad de Deusto’s International Spanish Center program, which those abroad in Bilbao, Spain, have been attending, canceled all in-person classes until the end of the program and will continue its academic semester online beginning March 23. 

Kelsea Picarella, a junior majoring in biological sciences studying at the International Spanish Center, said students in the program anticipated an announcement from the University asking them to return when the Madrid program was cut short earlier and have been working to make travel arrangements since Trump’s address. She said USC has not given International Spanish Center students an exact date by which they need to return home.

“The amount of cases in Spain skyrocketed in like two days, which was kind of nerve-wracking for us,” Picarella said. “We were just waiting it out to hear from USC because we had heard that the Madrid program had been canceled.”

USC said it plans to compensate students who are returning from study abroad programs in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Level 3 countries, it said in a statement to the Daily Trojan. 

“Due to the COVID-19 situation, USC will reimburse study abroad students for any flight change fees that they are not able to have waived to return home from CDC Level 3 countries,” the statement read.

To be reimbursed for their travel, International Spanish Center program students will need to provide documentation, including their departure dates, bank routing numbers and Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication numbers. 

Sarah Yaacoub contributed to this report.