MINERAL RIDGE, Ohio – The possibility that a group of students and adults who visited Toronto last week may have been exposed to the SARS (search) virus prompted officials to shut down its 1,100-student school district Monday.
None of the band students and chaperones showed any signs of severe acute respiratory syndrome, but two school board members received five or six calls each from worried parents requesting that schools be closed, said Rocco Adduci, superintendent of Weathersfield School District in suburban Youngstown.
"I think the community and some parents are overreacting," Adduci said. "To be safe, maybe it was the best thing."
The school shutdown represents one of the most drastic reactions to a virus that Ohio health officials believe has infected only one person. Ten other cases are suspected.
Worldwide, SARS has killed about 333 people, mostly in Asia, since it surfaced in November. There have been no SARS deaths in the United States.
SARS symptoms include fever, chills and headache and body aches. After two to seven days, patients may develop a cough. Other symptoms can include shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing and pneumonia.
Thirty-nine people, mostly students, spent three days last week in Toronto (search), where SARS has killed at least 20 people and is considered the epicenter of the Canadian outbreak.
Adduci said classes will resume Tuesday. He said he checked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommended that classes resume because the SARS cases in Toronto are isolated to people involved with health care or hospitals.
"Had I had all the information from CDC (search) yesterday, I would not have canceled school," Adduci said Monday.