Amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the Pontifical North American College seminary has sent students to return to their homes and dioceses in the U.S.

NAC rector Fr. Peter Harman told CNA by email March 23 that the decision to send students home had been made “in consultation with” the seminary’s board of governors.

He added that about 20 or so students would stay at the seminary with the faculty as they are unable to get home or would not have a place to self-quarantine.

Harman said seminarians will undergo a 14 day quarantine after returning home and their studies will continue through the means established by the Roman universities at which they take classes.

“We made this decision for their safety, thinking that being in smaller groups at home would be safer than one large campus, not being able to assure direct health care here for the indefinite future,” he said. “We still have everyone healthy, and would rather undergo this convenience than jeopardize their health.”

The NAC is located in Rome and is a house of formation for American seminarians. It also offers housing to priests who are in the city pursuing graduate work or continuing formation programs, at the Casa Santa Maria residence.

On March 4, the NAC wrote on its Facebook page that along with all other universities in Italy, classes at the school would be suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Alan Holdren contributed to this report.