Quarantined Students Released, Coming Home

More than two dozen North County students and some of their teachers are scheduled to return home from China in two days, after spending a week under swine flu quarantine.

A representative of Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad released information Thursday morning that 26 students and five teachers have been discharged from a hotel in Yichang, China where they were ordered to stay after some members of their tour group were diagnosed with swine flu.

Six students and one teacher who tested positive for the virus are still in a Yichang hospital waiting for final testing before discharge, according to school officials. The school expects the remaining members of the group to be discharged in three to five days.

The group was among 35 freshmen and seven teachers from the private school who were nearing the end of a 13-day educational tour in China when they were quarantined on June 11.

The group of 35 ninth-graders left for China on June 2. Before the quarantine, they climbed the Great Wall, explored the immense plazas of the Forbidden City and visited the Terra Cotta Warriors in the inland city of Xi'an.

The group had embarked on a river cruise to Three Gorges Dam when a handful of students and one teacher started feeling sick and saw a doctor onboard.

Under the Chinese government's protocol, the students and teacher were taken to a nearby hospital when the boat docked.

School spokesperson, Caroline Callaway, said she didn't know where the students contracted the virus. They didn't have flu-like symptoms before the trip, she said.

The Chinese government ordered the group to stay in Yichang after a few of the students developed flu-like symptoms. Some stayed at a hospital, the others at a hotel. The entire group was treated with Tamiflu, the standard medication for people exposed to the swine flu.

The discharged students and teachers will travel to Shanghai, where they will depart on Saturday. One teacher will stay behind to help those still under quarantine. Travel arrangements are still being finalized, according to the school's news release.

Holly Crawford, a spokeswoman for San Diego County's Health and Human Services Agency, said it was too soon to know where they picked up the virus, which has an incubation period of between two and seven days, because the agency hadn't been able to interview them.

Pacific Ridge is a nonprofit, private secondary school that opened in 2007 in Carlsbad's Bressi Ranch area.

Callaway said the group might hold an event on campus once they're home to mark the end of the school year, which ended Tuesday.

The trip was tied to the ninth graders' study of ancient history and water resources.

Pacific Ridge opened in 2007 as a college prep school beginning with the seventh grade.

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