University of St. Thomas Magazine COVID-19 Special Edition

Here's an oral history of the decisions to close the Rome campus. Friday, Feb. 21 (21 total cases, one death in Italy) U.S. Embassy Rome issues a health alert, which is received by all students. KAREN LANGE, EDD, vice president, student affairs; co-chair, University Action and Response Team (UART): We [UART] were watching COVID-19 closely and saw how it was moving down the coast, even though it hadn’t hit Rome yet.When our teammet, we had lots of different opinions about what we should do. TIMOTHY LEWIS, PHD, senior international officer and associate vice provost for global learning and strategy: It’s a lot like first seeing a storm on the radar – you know it’s coming, then you start to see the dark clouds and you know that you have to deal with the rain that’s coming. …How do you do it? MICHAEL NAUGHTON, PHD, director, Center for Catholic Studies: I was the faculty adviser in Rome with the students; I got over there the same day that they did [Feb.9]. Thanos Zyngas

[Bernardi Campus director, pictured above] and I participated in the UART meetings by phone. You’re basically in a situation where it’s uncharted waters. Every road had not one ditch but two ditches – are we overreacting or not reacting enough? Sunday, Feb. 23 (157 total cases, three total deaths) Zyngas and Naughton meet with students to bring them up to date on the situation. NAUGHTON: The students were terribly disappointed, because they were having this powerful experience. …This community was forming, and they didn’t want to leave it. And they’re in Rome having gelato and pasta and vino; they’re walking by the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain and the Vatican. Monday, Feb. 24 (229 total cases, seven total deaths) Bernardi Campus leaders tell students to avoid crowded areas. Trips to Venice and Assisi are canceled. UART discusses the possibility of bringing students home.

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