Fifteen students from an all-girls private school in Baton Rouge came home two days early last week from a school-sponsored trip to Italy in hopes of avoiding exposure to the coronavirus, which has killed more than 50 people in that European country.

The students, as well as two teachers and two more adult chaperones, are now spending two weeks at home to make sure they didn’t contract the virus.

“The decision was made purely out of an abundance of caution,” explained Mindy Averitt, a spokeswoman for St. Joseph’s Academy.

The Catholic high school sent an email to parents late Monday afternoon, alerting them to the developments.

Averitt said none of the 19 individuals on that trip are sick, none are showing signs of sickness, and the risk that they contracted anything while in Italy is “very, very low.”

But to make absolutely sure, students, as well as the adults, are to steer clear of the 3015 Broussard St. campus and won’t be able to return until Friday, March 13. The two-week period is in keeping with guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control, though Averitt said the decision to impose that time away was the school’s decision alone.

The students will be away from the campus for a total of seven school days, but they will be expected to keep up with their schoolwork remotely during that period, Averitt said.

St. Joseph’s Academy students regularly travel to foreign locales, including Italy. This one-week trip began Friday, Feb. 21 and ended last Thursday; the students were originally supposed to return this past Saturday. The original plan was to visit sites in northern Italy, where coronavirus is most prevalent, but the itinerary was changed to keep everyone in south Italy, Averitt said.

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