(NEW YORK) — What would you do if your daughter was abroad in one of the areas most affected by coronavirus?
That scenario became a reality for Tami Kinley, whose daughter, Lily, attends Franklin University in Ticino, Switzerland. Ticino shares a border with Lombardy, a region of Italy hit hard by COVID-19. So far, more than 600 cases of the virus have been confirmed in Italy.
Kinley told ABC’s Cheri Preston on ABC News Radio’s “Perspective” podcast she wasn’t worried about the virus when news first broke about the virus.
“I didn’t pay any attention to it, honestly,” Kinley said. “I just thought, well, this is something over there and it’s sort of coming over here.”
But it wouldn’t be that way for long. Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) confirmed one case of the coronavirus in the canton of Ticino, where Lily’s school was located.
Kinley says she spoke to her daughter on the phone shortly after they found out about the case.
“I’ll be honest,” Kinley said. “I didn’t go to sleep until 4 a.m. on Monday after I spoke to her.”
Franklin University responded to the growing number of cases in and around Ticino by cancelling all school travel outside of Switzerland.
“While we recognise how disappointing this decision is for students and their families, the health and well-being of our students and faculty remain paramount,” said Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs Sara Steinert Borella in a statement.
The administration thought the decision would have disappointed students, but Kinley believes spirits remained high.
“I think there is some angst and anxiety, but they’re all together,” she told ABC News Radio. “They had a — I don’t know what this means — a ‘corona party’ where they cooked food.”
Kinley also says she and Lily received an outpouring of support from friends and family, thanks to a Facebook post she wrote.
“The link that I posted was actually a Franklin University disease specialist who has a child at Franklin, ” she says. “He was basically saying everybody put this in perspective. It is what it is. Be smart, be aware, and be logical. I sent the link to calm myself down and to calm others down and it worked.”
Even though Kinley is separated from her daughter by thousands of miles and the Atlantic Ocean, she hopes the anxiety doesn’t get the best of her or the rest of their family.
“What I’ve told my kids is support, and live life. Don’t let this cripple any of us,” Kinley says. “Do I worry sometimes? Yes, but I’m a mom!”
Listen to the Tami Kinley discussing what it’s like to be the parent of a student studying abroad in a coronavirus-hit location on ABC News Radio’s award-winning news magazine program, taking you beyond the headlines of today’s stories and trends.
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