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19 Newton North students, two staff returning from Italy ordered to stay home amid coronavirus fears

Newton North High School.
Newton North High School.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Newton Public School officials told community members Sunday that students and staff who recently returned from a school trip to Italy must stay home while officials monitor for coronavirus.

Superintendent David Fleishman told Newton parents in a letter Sunday that was also posted online that they made a decision to require students and staff from Newton North High School who returned from Italy on Feb. 29 to stay home from school beginning Monday. They would remain at home until further notice, he said.

“These students and staff will return to school once we have been advised that it is appropriate,” Fleishman said.

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There were 19 Newton North students and two staff chaperones on the trip, none of whom have become sick, said Julie McDonough, a Newton Public Schools spokeswoman, in an e-mail to the Globe Monday morning.

“This was one of the study abroad trips Newton offers to students. They were not traveling in areas identified as hotspots [for coronavirus] in the country,” McDonough said.

McDonough said the Newton Public Schools and city officials will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. at Newton City Hall to share information and address questions related to coronavirus plans and preparations in the city and its schools.

In his letter Sunday, Fleishman said the decision was made out of “an abundance of caution,” and that the school is working with state and local health officials and observing federal travel guidance about returning travelers.

The letter did not say how many school community members were on the trip or how long they visited Italy.

On Friday, the US government issued a level three travel advisory for all of Italy, urging Americans to avoid “nonessential travel” to the country. At the time, Italy had nearly 900 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

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In the letter, Fleishman said that Newton’s emergency management team has formed a committee to keep the virus from spreading. The letter also provided tips for staying healthy.


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.