Fordham London Centre Responds to Coronavirus


Courtesy of Marielle Sarmiento

The Director of Student Affairs for the London Centre details emergency response plans to the coronavirus outbreak.


Director of Student Affairs for the London Centre Matthew Holland contacted all students currently studying abroad at the Fordham London Centre with updates about how the campus is planning to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Holland invited London Centre students to information sessions throughout the week of March 2 to learn more about how the campus plans to respond to the outbreak in regards to planned Fordham trips across Europe.

Mark Simmons, director of academic affairs for the London Centre, announced that all students are allowed to leave the program at any moment with no academic consequences, as long as they communicate with their professors and submit a withdrawal request. After March 23, all study abroad courses will be available online for students to complete at home or in their host country. 

“Our mantra is stay healthy, and stay open until the end of the semester,” said Rev. Richard Salmi, S.J., head of the Fordham London Centre, at one of the meetings about coronavirus concerns on March 3. 

Students in London are banned from visiting countries that have Level 3 advisory or higher from the U.S. State Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All students from the United States studying abroad in Italy, including Fordham’s affiliated Milan and Rome programs, were notified that they must leave the country by March 4.

The annual Gabelli program trip to Rome was officially cancelled on March 2. Many students at Fordham London Centre had also planned their own trips to Italy for spring break, but were forced to cancel due to the travel advisory. “We planned on going to Naples, but now we have no idea how to make new plans when the situation is ever changing,” Lizzie Sisto, Fordham College at Lincoln Center ’21, said. Student Affairs staff have been helping students contact travel companies to cancel.

The university’s official advice is for all study abroad students to remain in their host cities until further notice, however, it is not an official rule and they will not be penalized for travel. At the meeting, Holland suggested other countries for their spring break with fewer cases and polled interest levels for the London student affairs team to plan a U.K. spring break trip. “I hope if we stay in London that we get to do something as a group,” Emma Fenton, Gabelli School of Business ’21, said.

The rapid and frequent communication from the Study Abroad Office has caused uncertainty among students and parents if study abroad programs will continue. Currently, the London Centre does not plan on ending the program early. 

Only if the U.K. becomes a travel advisory Level 3 or if the U.K. or U.S. government mandates American university students to return will Fordham administration close the campus. Salmi explained that even if classes were barred from meeting, as large public gatherings have been banned in France and Switzerland, students would be allowed to remain in their housing in London and take online classes. 

As the meeting was opened up for questions, many students expressed concern about finances and refunds. If the Gabelli program trip to Rome is not replaced by another trip, Salmi confirmed that students will receive a partial refund of their program fee of $2,200 — significantly more than the Liberal Arts program free of $500. However, it is unlikely that housing fees will be refunded for students who choose to leave early. 

If students are worried about coronavirus, they are advised to call the Fordham London emergency number and press option 3, a direct line manned by a senior London administrator and to call 111, the U.K. National Health Service’s non-emergency line.