By Kelly Werthmann

DENVER (CBS4) – The coronavirus outbreak is taking its toll on college students studying abroad. As the virus continues to spread into Italy, many universities are closing campuses in Florence and telling students to leave the country immediately.

That’s forcing some Colorado parents to make last-minute travel plans.

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(credit: CBS)

“Oh it’s disappointing for all of us,” Jackie Griggs, whose daughter is spending the spring semester in Italy, said. “All of the parents are scrambling to find out how to get their kid home.”

Griggs explained her daughter, 20-year-old Madison Griggs, is among more than 100 students with Loyola Marymount University and Gonzaga University studying abroad in Florence. She learned early Wednesday morning that Madison was told to “go home.”

“They said, ‘Go home, and we’ll send all your stuff from the dorms,’” Griggs told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.

(credit: Griggs family)

The decision comes as the number of people dying from coronavirus in Italy continues to climb. Griggs said she’s not so much worried about her daughter getting the virus as she is about the potential difficulty of getting Madison home.

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“The quarantine situation, if there’s an issue getting them out of Italy,” she said. “They’re shutting down the train services between countries, so you don’t want them to get stuck somewhere.”

Despite outbreak fears, Griggs said her daughter is making the most of her time in Europe. She added she trusts the program’s order for students to go home is the right call.

CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann interviews Jackie Griggs. (credit: CBS)

“I’ve trusted them with my kid, to take my kid over there and to teach them, travel around Europe, and I can’t second guess what their decision is,” Griggs explained. “I’m sure they were pained to make the decision.”

Like many other universities that have canceled or suspended their study abroad programs, Griggs said her daughter’s courses will eventually resume online. It’s not clear, she said, if they’ll be reimbursed for any tuition or program costs since it was cut two months short.

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For the latest information about coronavirus, visit the CDC website.

Kelly Werthmann