PLYMOUTH (CBS) — A Plymouth North High School student who had traveled to Italy, where there was recently a coronavirus outbreak, was taken to a hospital Wednesday night for flu-like symptoms. Doctors examined the student and sent them home. Out of an abundance of caution, all Plymouth public schools are closed Friday.
The 17-year-old student was part of a school group that traveled to Milan last month. When his parents noticed he was sick, they called 911 and he was taken Beth Israel Deaconess hospital in Plymouth.
“After those folks call 911, they get a pre-screening and caller interrogation which then triggers this COVID isolation procedure,” said Brewster Ambulance Clinical Director Christ DiBona.
After examination, doctors determined the student could return home. On Friday, town officials announced that the student’s test came back negative for the coronavirus.
The superintendent of Plymouth Public Schools sent an email to parents explaining the situation and telling them not to worry. He said that back in February, 12 high school students and four chaperones went to Milan and came back the day before the city went into lockdown because of a coronavirus outbreak.
“The advice from the Department of Public Health is just to monitor the kids, and we have and they have not exhibited any health concerns — even going to the nurse’s office — until we had a student who went to Beth Israel Deaconess last night who was experiencing some health concerns. He went and was evaluated and was released today,” said Superintendent Gary Maestas.
None of the other children or chaperones who were on the trip are showing any sickness or flu-like symptoms. Friday will be 14 days since they have returned, which is generally considered to be the incubation period for the coronavirus. They should be able to go back to school Monday but are staying home until then.
“I think social media creates a lot of unnecessary fear out there,” said Plymouth Town Manager Melissa Arrighi. “There’s no heightened threat right now for the town of Plymouth and there’s still a low threat for Massachusetts.”
The superintendent announced Thursday evening that Plymouth public schools will be closed Friday for cleaning.
“I did not expect them to cancel school,” Plymouth South High School student Justin Gates said. “I was supposed to go to France in April with the school and they just had to cancel that too, so I was kind of taken aback with that.”
Maestas said that the district has hired a professional cleaning service and that they are only doing this out of an abundance of caution.
Some parents praised their quick response Thursday night. “I thought it was pretty good that they would do that to clean the schools,” one parent said. “Plymouth does a good job.”
Since the virus is spread person-to-person or by touching an infected area, health officials and teachers are urging everyone to keep their hands clean to lower their risk.
“We’ve dealt with several viruses in my time as an educator and we’ve been able to navigate them,” Maestas said. “And I believe we’ll do the same with this.”