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St. Mary's kids still quarantined

Sixty-five St. Mary's School students and seven teachers remained in quarantine late Saturday after one student tested positive for the virus that causes swine flu.

The student who tested positive, but showed no symptoms of swine flu, still is under observation at a Beijing hospital. She has been separated from the rest of the group since Wednesday.

The other 64 students and seven teachers are sequestered at the three-star Yanxiang Hotel in Beijing with about 51 students and teachers from other parts of the United States and Great Britain, where they are able to communicate with their families by e-mail, text and phone, said St. Mary's Principal Frank Phillips. They have been making friends with the British students, though they have to wear surgical masks when they meet, Phillips said.

The St. Mary's group was part of a larger group of 1,500 students invited by a Chinese government-affiliated organization to learn about Chinese language and culture.

The St. Mary's students had been slated to fly off to the Henan province today to study language, culture and kung fu, but that will have to be postponed until at least Tuesday, provided the students continue to test negative for the virus.

Health officials have been taking the students' temperatures twice a day, Phillips said.

"They went through the seven stages of grief and now they're into acceptance," Phillips said. "It'll be great fodder for college essays on how to deal with setbacks."

Phillips said Hanban Chinese Language Council International, which brought the students to China, has made it a diplomatic priority to keep the students comfortable.

Another 1,378 students who were part of the Hanban flagship goodwill-building program also are restricted in their movement on a trip that was supposed to include site-seeing, Phillips said. They are confined to the Beijing Foreign Language School, where they are taking classes, he said.