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Cincinnati Public Schools cancels some classes, suspends all international trips amid COVID-19 fears

Posted at 10:40 AM, Mar 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 18:28:58-04

Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.

Cincinnati Public Schools on Tuesday temporarily shut down one school and suspended all upcoming international travel as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19.

The Academy of World Languages in Evanston got a major scrubdown Tuesday after a staff member voluntarily self quarantined following possible COVID-19 exposure. Classes were canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday as a precaution, a CPS spokesperson said.

“It is important to stress that there are no cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in our school district,” said CPS spokesperson Frances Russ.

CPS also instituted a district-wide travel suspension for both domestic and international flights. That means the cancellation of planned trips that would have taken 223 students to Italy, England, Spain, Belgium, Bahamas and the Philippines in April and May.

In a statement, Superintendent Laura Mitchell said “this was not an easy decision. We share our students disappointment about the cancellation of long-anticipated trips, but we must consider the health and safety of our students and staff.”

An Evanston resident, William Curtis Scott, told WCPO 9 News that he agreed with CPS's decisions. Scott walks 2 miles most days past his old school building, which he said used to be called Sawyer Junior High School.

“Especially considering what's going on today, you have to take some precaution," Scott said. "Right, wrong or indifferent because we just don’t know.

“We just don’t have the typical childhood diseases like measles and mumps, colds and the flu. You've got coronavirus. It's brand new to me,” Scott said. “You have to be cautious because if one person has it … how easy is that to spread?

“Once it circulates, it passes on to how many people? I mean, you take a family of four and they interact with other families and it grows and grows and grows!”

RELATED: When you should get tested for COVID-19 in the Cincinnati area

The Academy of World Languages teaches Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian and English as a second language to children in grades K-through-9.

“There are a lot of concerns in a school like this," Scott said. "You got a lot of people coming from different ethnic backgrounds, and you don’t know what their health situation is at home.”

CPS officials said they are keeping close communication with the city’s health department.

Only three cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the state of Ohio. All involve patients in their mid-50s in Cuyahoga County near Cleveland.

Find coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:


  • Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
  • See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.


  • State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
  • See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.


  • SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail
  • See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.

What is coronavirus, COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.

Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.

The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.