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Quarantine ends for St. Mary's group in China

After a week of quarantine in China, 65 St. Mary's School students and their seven chaperones are back on the tour circuit to learn about Chinese language and culture.

Sixty-four students holed up in a three-star hotel in Beijing and another student who was quarantined at a hospital were released at about 11:40 p.m. Tuesday after testing negative for the virus that causes swine flu.

"The kids are out," said St. Mary's Principal Frank Phillips. "They're getting a red carpet tour of Beijing for the next few days, so there was a silver lining to the whole thing."

The students were quarantined after two students tested positive for the H1N1 virus. Neither became ill.

The group, from the 400-student Catholic secondary school in Medford, traveled to China as part of a Chinese government-sponsored goodwill-building and educational program called Confucius Classroom.

Today, the students were set to tour Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven.

They will continue touring sites in Beijing on Friday before flying to Henan province for marital arts, language and folk-paper cutting instruction.