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APS Bars Students Who Recently Visited China

Amid ongoing fears about the coronavirus outbreak, Arlington Public Schools is barring recent visitors to China from schools.

The action is in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. In a letter to parents last night, APS said any student who has returned from mainland China since Feb. 2 will need to wait at least 14 days before returning to school.

“APS will provide support to any student who is unable to attend school by providing take-home educational materials,” the school system said. “Please contact your child’s school to receive these materials by mail.”

One parent who contacted ARLnow questioned why parents were only being notified of the policy now, saying APS should have implemented the CDC-recommended, 14-day quarantine earlier.

Currently there are no known cases of coronavirus in Virginia, D.C. or Maryland.

The full letter is below.

Dear APS Staff and Families:

We have received inquiries from families about our procedures for students who may be returning to the United States from China.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers returning from Mainland China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) to the US after 5 pm on February 2, 2020, should remain at home for 14 days after their return date to the US. Therefore, APS students returning from Mainland China after the date above will not be allowed to attend school for 14 days. This will help us reduce the possible risk of coronavirus spread in our schools.

APS will provide support to any student who is unable to attend school by providing take-home educational materials. Please contact your child’s school to receive these materials by mail.

Based on Arlington County Public Health Division guidance, APS continues to take the following effective steps to prevent students and staff from becoming ill in schools:

Cleaning and disinfecting touched objects and surfaces frequently with materials that meet the criteria recommended by the CDC and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for control of coronavirus.
Reinforcing the following effective behaviors in schools with students and employees:Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.
Cover mouth and hands with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
Stay home when sick – and only return to school when children and staff are symptom free for 24 hours.
Keep their distance from people who are sick – and encourage sick people they encounter to go home and seek care as needed.
Avoid non-essential travel.
To further protect all our students, our employees, and our community, we need your help to reinforce the messages above. Have your student(s) practice these behaviors at home – it will make it easier to follow these same recommendations in school.

APS will continue to work with Arlington County Public Health Division and the School Health Bureau as the situation evolves. This is a rapidly developing situation, and we will publish updated guidance as warranted.

For up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/ 2019-ncov/about/index.html.

Cintia Johnson
Interim Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

Reuben K. Varghese, MD, MPH
Health Director and Arlington County Public Health Division Chief

Photo via CDC

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