WASHINGTON — Loudoun County Public Schools have announced that they will suspend all school-sponsored international travel through June 30 following concerns of coronavirus cases in the DMV region, especially the two active cases in Virginia.
In a letter sent out to parents and staff by the school district's superintendent, the decision comes as a response to the spread of the coronavirus in the Virginia area.
In Virginia, 21 people have been tested, with 18 tests returned as negative and three still pending. Three people in all have tested positive for the coronavirus. A Marine at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia, tested positive on Saturday for the coronavirus. A Fairfax resident, who was on the Nile River cruise recently. And an Arlington County resident in their 60s who developed symptoms after returning from international travel.
On Saturday, the Loudoun County Fire and Rescue was informed that a firefighter in its department had come in contact with someone who has since tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Fire officials said out of an abundance of caution the firefighter has been self-quarantined since learning of the exposure Saturday morning. They also said the firefighter shows no signs of illness.
"We are taking these steps out of an abundance of caution, and in keeping with recent guidance from the Virginia Department of Health that school divisions should reconsider their travel plans," said Eric Williams, Superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools.
The school system will also cancel the upcoming Loudoun International Youth Leadership Summit scheduled for March 20. Due to the Coronavirus, some schools will be participating virtually, according to the leadership summit's website.
The summit includes students from nine Loudoun County high schools engaging with students from Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, and Taiwan.
According to the CDC, travel warnings have been issued for China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy.
In regards to domestic student activity trips, Williams said that it is up to the discretion of the student to participate. He said schools will provide an alternative for students who decide not to go on trips.
Williams said the school district is working with the Loudoun County Department of Health to assess future decisions regarding schools to protect students and staff.
LCPS is one of several school districts in the DMV region that is preparing for the possibility of school closures. LCPS school officials said staff is developing contingency plans that involve online learning and other off-site learning experiences.
LCPS released a COVID-19 Preparedness webpage to answer frequently asked questions and provide updates. The school also plans to provide updates through Facebook and Twitter.