ALBANY - SUNY and CUNY will return roughly 300 students and facility studying abroad in five countries due to growing concerns over the spread of coronavirus.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and college officials made the announcement Wednesday, saying the study-abroad programs in China, Italy, Japan, Iran and South Korea have been suspended immediately.
They will return on charter flights through New York Stewart International Airport during the next several days, the governor said.
After being screened by health professionals when they return, they will be required to be quarantined for 14 days before returning to campus.
This will affect SUNY New Paltz students who have been studying in several of those countries: 11 in Italy, three in South Korea and one in Japan. All but two students in Italy, one in South Korea and the student in Japan had already returned home or are on their way home, the college said.
The college said it will work with affected students to mitigate any financial impact. The college has been in touch with the students and they are all safe.
SUNY New Paltz is asking all students and others in the college community to carefully consider any plans they had to travel during the upcoming spring break, as that could increase their chances of coming in contact with someone who has been exposed to the virus.
The state Health Department made the recommendations after New York confirmed six people — including four from one Westchester County and one neighbor — have been infected with the virus.
All five countries have either been issued a Level 2 or Level 3 travel notice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"As we continue to see a rise in cases of novel coronavirus around the world, we are taking every precaution necessary and mobilizing our public health system to protect New Yorkers," Cuomo said in a statement.
"Out of an abundance of caution, SUNY and CUNY study abroad programs in the highest impacted countries will be suspended effective immediately and all students and staff will return to New York and begin a 14-day quarantine."
Cuomo said the decision should not suggest a reason to panic, but "the reality is we are getting the testing done, getting the information out and deploying healthcare resources to treat people who need it."
"We will provide students with financial and academic resources and work to minimize any disruption today's action may cause, while we work aggressively with all our partners at the local, state and federal level to protect our entire campus communities," SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson said.
Additionally, SUNY and CUNY have canceled all campus-sponsored travel outside of the U.S. to impacted countries for the spring semester.
Times Herald-Record reporter Mike Randall contributed to this report.