Coronavirus concerns halt local high school students' trip to Italy
UPDATE: The school now says the students will be kept out of classes for two weeks.
Read the full update here.
BATON ROUGE – A trip of the year has been cut short for a dozen high school students. What was supposed to be a fun and educational visit to Italy turned into a dash for St. Joseph’s Academy students to get home amid a coronavirus outbreak.
“Unfortunately, because of circumstances the decision was made to bring them home early,” St. Joseph’s Academy Communications Director Mandy Averitt said.
Averitt says the students left last Friday ahead of the Mardi Gras break and were planning to return this Saturday. Instead, they'll land in New York Thursday night then make their way back to Baton Rouge.
“Keeping them away from an area where there was a known outbreak was prudent,” Averitt said.
Right now, Italy is seeing a spike in coronavirus cases. Nearly 400 people have been infected in a short period of time, with around a dozen deaths. The area where the disease is spreading the most is in the northern part of the country, a place the students were planning on visiting.
“The itinerary changed to keep them in southern Italy and away from any known areas of the disease breakout,” Averitt said. “With all travel opportunities for our girls, their safety is our primary concern, and this epidemic is unprecedented.”
The school said Friday the students did not go near any areas in Italy affected by the virus. They will return to school as planned next week.
Airports in New York are only screening travelers coming from China right now.