Virus fears curtail private school’s European travel plans
Last week Nova Scotia cancelled all international spring trips organized by public schools. Now it seems private schools are following suit as the number of cases of COVID-19 climbs.
King’s-Edgehill School, a private boarding school in Windsor has cancelled a trip to Europe scheduled to leave on March 13.
School headmaster Joe Seagram told SaltWire that although the trip did not include any stops in outbreak areas, such as Italy, once the province announced on March 4 that they were cancelling trips, the school thought it would be prudent to get in touch with the province’s chief doctor Robert Strang.
“Dr. Strang looked at that specific itinerary and thought it would just be best if we didn’t go,” he said.
Because the trip is being cancelled due to medical considerations and after consulting with provincial health authorities, Seagram said they were able to request a refund for students.
Another group from the school, a girls’ hockey team, left for Europe the same day the province announced the public school trip cancellations.
Their itinerary included travel to Northern Italy for a hockey tournament, but Seagram said that portion was cancelled due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the country. Over the weekend, the number of newly reported cases in Italy climbed to more than 1,000 per day. As of Monday, there were more than 9,000 confirmed cases. The Government of Canada has raised its travel alert level in Northern Italy and is now asking Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel to the region.
Seagram said the trip organizers have been very accommodating. The team was able to avoid Italy altogether and instead extended its travel in Austria and Germany. There are no travel advisories in effect for those regions.
“They’re having a great time. Their hosts are looking after them famously, so they’re good,” Seagram said. The team returns to Canada on Friday.
The decision to cancel spring break trips, which was made collectively by the province’s regional centres for education, affects approximately 1,200 students. Some of the planned destinations included high-risk areas. The ban on international school travel is only until April 30, but the province says it will reassess the situation as it continues to evolve.
Private schools in Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa and other parts of the country have also chosen to cancel overseas trips for now.
A spokesperson from the provincial department of education said the province had no authority over private schools and their travel plans but has been sharing information related to public health with them as a courtesy.