Cy-Fair HS foreign exchange student asked to go home to Italy amid COVID-19 outbreak

CYPRESS, Texas (KTRK) -- Foreign exchange students in the U.S. from all over the world are being asked to return home amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Elisa Siviero, a Cy-Fair High School student, is one of them. She came to the Houston area in August 2019 from Italy, ready to learn and take in the American culture.

"My organization last night emailed me telling me that I have to go back," she said.

The organization, GreenHeart, said it has been closely monitoring the advice and actions from WHO, CDC and the U.S. Department of State. On its website, they stated, "Given these developments, GreenHeart is asking our cultural exchange participants, within the USA, as well as those traveling abroad, to return to their home countries immediately."

Given the situation that is currently happening in her home-country, Elisa's parents and even her host-family say it's too dangerous to go back right now.

"We think it's ridiculous to fly her on a plane in a contained environment into a country that's on shut down," said Elisa's host father, Tim Banks. "We think she is safer here."

Banks and his wife are now fighting against the clock to see what they can do to keep Elisa until it is truly safe to go back.

"I contacted Senator Ted Cruz's office to highlight this situation and see if they can help us," said Banks.

Elisa is not the only foreign exchange student who is being told to pack up and head back to their country.

"We're waiting. It could happen very quickly. Might not happen for a week, we just don't know," said Banks.

"We think home is the safest place right now," said his wife.

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