MARION — Superintendent Douglas White and Old Rochester Regional High School Principal Michael Devoll report that a group of students and staff have been asked to stay home for the remainder of this week after recently traveling to Italy.

The group of 15 students and three staff members have been asked to stay home Thursday, March 5 and Friday, March 6 in light of a recent update to traveling guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC is now advising travelers returning to the United States from any country with a Level 3 Travel Health Notice, which includes China, Iran, Italy and South Korea, to stay home for 14 days from their departure from that region and practice social distancing. This guideline retroactively includes the group of Old Rochester students and teachers.

The students returned from Italy on Sunday, Feb. 23. As they had traveled to the southern part of Italy, which was not part of the CDC travel restrictions at the time, the students and staff were able to return to school immediately after the trip.

The Old Rochester group will reach the mark of 14 days of departure from Italy on Sunday, March 8. No one from the group is currently believed to be presenting symptoms of the virus, and provided they remain asymptomatic through Sunday, they will be able to return to school on Monday.

The district does not believe there is any cause for concern for students or staff. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), the risk to residents of contracting the virus remains low.

DPH recommends that schools continue education about good hygiene. The precautions to help prevent colds and the flu can help protect against COVID-19. Students, staff, and volunteers are reminded to:

– Practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Use Alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.

– When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. You can also cough or sneeze into your sleeve. Throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

– Avoid sharing drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, dishes, towels or other items. Wash these items thoroughly with soap and water after use.

– Avoid close contact with people who are sick whenever possible.

– Practice other good health habits: Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

In addition, school facilities staff is vigilantly sanitizing the district's educational spaces as is standard practice during cold and flu season.

School officials are in regular communication with state and local departments of public health and safety officials regarding COVID-19, and the district is following all recommended guidelines to ensure the safety of students and staff.

The district will continue to update the community as advised by local and state departments of public health.

— Old Rochester Regional School District