Nearly two dozen students in Milford, Massachusetts, who recently took a trip to Italy were cleared to return to school, the district said Tuesday, amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus in the European country.
Superintendent Kevin McIntyre said the 23 students from Milford and 10 students from Hopedale, who returned from Italy Friday, were clear to return to class along with faculty who were on the trip after they were told to stay home Monday "out of an abundance of caution."
McIntyre said the district consulted with the Board of Health and other health officials while the students and faculty were at home. He added that the students did not travel in areas where there were reported cases of the coronavirus.
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"Students and faculty were quickly cleared and have returned to school today," McIntyre said in a statement.
"We wanted to ensure that there were no state or federal protocols for individuals traveling from Italy that we needed to follow. Our goal is always to ensure the health and safety of every individual in the Milford Public Schools," he said.
Hopedale Superintendent of Schools Karen Crebase also issued a statement on the decision:
"Administrators spoke with the CDC first thing on Monday morning - students and faculty were quickly cleared to return to school as the CDC ensured us that there were no state or federal protocols for individuals traveling from Italy that we needed to follow," Crebase wrote.
As of Tuesday morning, 283 cases of the coronavirus had been reported in Italy, including 7 deaths.
Milford Health Director Jackie Murphy said the superintendents acted "out of a very wise abundance of caution."
"Based on their itinerary, and the number of cases, and how Italy's healthcare system is handling their coronavirus cases, it was absolutely safe for the students to go back to school," Murphy said.
As the students who traveled abroad returned to school Tuesday, other students NBC10 Boston spoke with said the extra precautions helped alleviate any fears they may have had about coronavirus exposure.
"Cause now I know that they don't have symptoms, they don't have the virus, and they can't transmit the virus," Milford senior Jonas Augusto said.
"That's kind of like a safety precaution I guess, so it's good," added Milford senior Jovan Monge.
Early this month, a University of Massachusetts, Boston student — a man in his 20’s — was diagnosed with the virus after visiting Wuhan, China. It is the only confirmed case of the virus in Massachusetts.