Here’s what US schools are doing in response to the coronavirus


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to assist public health partners in responding to the novel (new) coronavirus outbreak first identified in Wuhan, China, February, 2020.

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As concerns over the coronavirus mount, some U.S. school districts have canceled Chinese student exchange programs to alleviate fears in the community.

Since the first outbreak of the new virus reported in Wuhan, China, in late December, the virus has spread both locally and overseas, sickening about 17,400 people across the globe and killing at least 362. There have been 11 cases in the United States so far. 

Last month, Yakima School District canceled the trip of eight students, two teachers, and two administrators, who were planning to travel to Macao, China in mid-February. Washington was also the first state where a U.S. case of the coronavirus was identified when a man in his 30s was confirmed sick in Snohomish County.

A handful of schools and school districts in Massachusetts have also canceled Chinese exchange programs. Brookline school district said a planned student trip to China has been postponed indefinitely. Norton school district said 10 Chinese students from schools in and around Beijing are no longer coming to study at its schools as originally planned. Easton Middle School, which was supposed to host about 10 to 16 students from the Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School in China starting Monday, canceled its plans as well.

Philadelphia’s William Penn Charter School said in January that it was canceling its two-week-long Chinese student exchange program after a student was tested for the coronavirus, Sharon Sexton, a spokeswoman for the school, told CNBC. The test turned out negative.

It is likely the exchange program will continue next year when it is advisable to travel to the region, Sexton said.

Some school districts are taking extra precautions. The Chula Vista Elementary School District in San Diego sent a letter to parents last week asking them to follow the guidelines released by the California Department of Public Health.

“During the outbreak, we ask any students who have a fever of 100.4 Fahrenheit or greater to be kept home until they have no fever for 24 hours, without fever medication,” superintendent Francisco Escobedo stated in the letter.

Others are going even further and asking students who have traveled to the region not to attend classes.  

Four students who visited China for the Lunar New Year were advised to live-off campus temporarily at the Annie Wright Schools, a private boarding school in Tacoma, Washington. The students did not visit Wuhan or have symptoms of the coronavirus, according to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. The students are expected to return to the dorm after a week, Annie Wright spokesperson Lisa Isenman told CNBC.

Thirty high school students from The Benjamin School, an independent day school in Palm Beach County, were told to stay home from class. The students were at a Model United Nations event at Yale University attended by a Chinese student who may have had the coronavirus.

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