By Associated Press - Thursday, January 23, 2020

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) - More than 20 Chinese exchange students who recently arrived in northern Virginia will be unable to visit their host school because of concerns over a disease outbreak.

Longfellow Middle School in Falls Church announced Wednesday that the students and chaperones from Hubei province won’t be visiting the school or staying with host families as originally planned.

Instead, school proncipal Carole Kihm says the school will work with the students’ tour company to arrange other cultural and educational activities in the area.

School and health officials had sought to assure parents that any risk from the student exchange was extremely low. But the assurances didn’t satisfy parents, who expressed concerns in a meeting Wednesday about the outbreak of a new virus in that part of China that has sickened hundreds of people and killed 17. The city of Wuhan is shutting down outbound flights and trains from the city in response to the outbreak.

Kihm said in a letter to parents that health experts believed the risk of transmission was low but the decision to restrict the exchange program was made out of “an abundance of caution.”

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