EMSB asks students, staff who have visited countries hit hard by COVID-19 to stay home

The largest English-language school board in Quebec is asking families to help limit the spread of the novel coronavirus as students and staff head back to class.

The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) issued a statement over the weekend with directives, specifically urging children and staff who have visited countries hard hit by COVID-19 to stay at home.

Students who have visited China, Iran, Hong Kong, South Korea, Italy, Japan or Singapore in the past 14 days should stay home even if they don’t have any flu symptoms, the school board said. Parents are also asked to call Info-Santé to seek further medical advice before heading to a hospital or clinic.

“Info-Santé will provide the necessary instructions with regards to quarantine that applies to you,” the note reads.

While the EMSB is urging calm, the school board also advises parents to talk to children about the flu and general prevention measures. This includes regular and efficient handwashing.

The statement also addresses the fact that a trip to northern Italy for Westmount High School was cancelled. The school trip for Laurier Macdonald High School was also changed shortly before departure to avoid touring cities in the affected area.

The EMSB said that while the decisions made may have been disappointing, they were the right call in the face of COVID-19. The school board is also monitoring the situation since several high schools have trips planned for April.

The EMSB letter comes as a fourth probable case of the novel coronavirus was detected in Quebec.

The woman in question began experiencing symptoms after returning to the Montérégie region from a cruise that included a stop in Mexico. Health authorities say she is resting at home in isolation.

In Canada, the number of confirmed cases has surpassed 60, mostly in Ontario and British Columbia. Several other cases considered to be presumptive are awaiting confirmation by the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg before they are added to the official list.

With files from Global News’ Brittany Henriques and the Canadian Press

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