Amid panic of coronavirus pandemic, new quarantine policy emerges

February 11, 2020 — by Vicky Bai and Cici Xu

Acting on increasing fears over the coronavirus, the administration began pulling students who have traveled to China since Jan. 1 out of school and asked them to stay away long enough to establish that they don’t have the disease — roughly two weeks since they came back to the U.S. Many of the students had gone home for Lunar New Year and family visits. 

As of Monday, there were two students, senior Selena Liu and Jayne Zhou who were kept out of school by this policy, while several other students have already finished their quarantines. 

“We're going to try to be as proactive as possible to support our students because this virus isn't their fault,” principal Greg Louie said. “Even though the students may not even be carriers, they still have to stay home.” 

The novel coronavirus is a new strain of the lethal coronavirus family, a body of viruses that cause mild to severe respiratory infections such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which circulated widely in 2003. The new Wuhan coronavirus leads symptoms such as fever, dry cough, difficulties breathing and more. According to CNN, more than 43,101 people are infected worldwide and 1,031 people have died from the disease as of Tuesday.

The incubation period for the coronavirus appears to be approximately 14 to 21 days, meaning the symptoms may stay hidden within a carrier for this period of time after infection. During this time, the virus can spread discreetly. By the time people realize that the virus is spreading, it may be too late to contain it in an area. Some students have decided to wear masks to protect themselves, but despite popular beliefs, “a cloth mask provides little protection,” in terms of warding of the disease, according to experts.

Some students and parents criticized local officials’ response to the disease. Some of the quarantined students attended school for days before they received notes saying they had to stay home. 

“It is frightening that the policy is so recent,” sophomore Cheryl Wu said. “This does not shine a positive light on those in charge, since people could have already gotten sick during school-wide events like the Speak Up for Change assembly.”

Louie said the school strictly follows directions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), California Department of Health of the Santa Clara County, Public Department of Health, the Santa Clara County Office of Education and the Los Gatos Saratoga Unified School District. 

Other schools like Los Gatos High have a similar policy to prevent the spread. 

Administrators have asked teachers of the quarantined students to record lectures and post the recordings online. Another option is using an application called Swivl, where teachers can wear a device that tracks the lessons taught in the classroom and transfers it to an app, where students can access the material.

For students in Hubei Province, winter break has been extended and the exact start date for schools remains undetermined and depends on the virus. Schools in China are also having students take online classes to make up for in class work.