Flights canceled for some SRJC students trying to return home from Italy amid coronavirus fears

At least three Santa Rosa Junior College students attempting to leave Italy since their study abroad program ended early have had their flights canceled, after the entire country was placed on lockdown Monday to combat the spreading coronavirus.

The college canceled its study abroad program in Florence last week in response to concerns over the spread of the virus in the country, where more than 9,000 people have been afflicted with the virus as of Monday. The goal was to get all 22 SRJC students out of the country by March 11, but students who were supposed to leave that day learned Monday that their flight had been canceled.

Fourteen students in the program - which was composed of four community colleges - were booked on that flight. SRJC heard three of its students had their flights canceled, said spokeswoman Kimberly Starke. The American Institute for Foreign Study, which is making the travel arrangements, told students it would book a new flight and send them the details Tuesday.

“I have a little concern,” said SRJC student Anthony Giampaoli, who was supposed to be on the flight. “(But) they get me out when they get me out. I trust the process.”

Some SRJC students who were concerned about the virus left the country before the program was canceled. One of those students, Jacob Eastman, said he suspected officials would impose travel bans, and worried that he would get stuck in the country if he didn’t leave soon. He arrived back in the U.S. on Friday, and is now self-quarantined in his family’s RV outside their Bennett Valley home.

“I’m very relieved,” Eastman said. “I’m happy to be home.”

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