Some Massachusetts schools are urging students who traveled to areas with confirmed cases of the COVID-19 illness to stay home due to concerns about the potential exposure of the coronavirus.
In Newton, students and staff from Newton North High School who traveled to Italy over February vacation and returned on Feb. 29 will not be allowed to return to school “until further notice,” according to an update from Newton Schools Supt. David Fleishman posted on the Newton Parent Teacher Student Organization website.
Fleishman said the decision was made out of an abundance of caution and with guidance from state health officials and the Newton Health and Human Services department.
"To prevent any potential exposure to our staff and students, we are implementing federal guidance around returning travelers, which is evolving daily,” the letter said, adding that students and staff will be allowed to return once school officials have been advised it’s safe by health officials.
The superintendent in Bellingham is taking the same approach, asking students and staff who traveled to areas with confirmed cases of coronavirus over February break to stay home for the week.
The new measures come as two people who returned to Rhode Island from a school trip to Europe tested positive for the new coronavirus disease, and a third person from the trip is undergoing tests, Rhode Island health officials said Sunday.
The Newton superintendent said the citywide emergency management has a committee focused on the potential spread of infectious diseases and potential scenarios.
“While this specific virus is a new one, managing community spread of disease is not new and our public health professionals are well prepared.”— Newton Schools Supt. David Fleishman
Infections of the virus in Italy rose 50% Sunday and the U.S. government advised Americans against any travel to two regions in northern Italy.