In March 2019, 24 students from Wolf Creek Public Schools went to China for two weeks and stayed with local families. (Photo contributed)

Coronavirus impacts central Alberta students trips

Central Alberta school boards watch international virus outbreak

Red Deer Public Schools is keeping a watchful eye on what is happening in France in regards to the coronavirus, with a high school student trip planned for the country in April.

Trips to Peru and Dominican Republic next month have not created as much concern, said superintendent Stu Henry.

“Theoretically, everything is a green light right now. But of course we’re looking at the rate this virus is spreading. We need to be prudent and have alternate plans, if we can,” Henry said.

He said France has not seen a big increase in the coronavirus, but a lot of precautions were put in place since it is so close to Italy.

“We’re questioning the value of our trip if we get over there and some of the big sites are closed to our kids.”

He said postponing, rather than cancelling, means there’s a better chance of students getting value for their money. International trips cost about $3,500 to $4,000 per student.

“For a lot of these families, the kids have been fundraising for years to pull these trips off, so we don’t want to take that decision lightly.”

The trips were insured through Urban Schools Insurance Consortium, a pooled insurance program across Alberta, so the more trips that cancel, the less money each family gets back, he said.

“With so many schools cancelling, they’re probably not going to see all of their funds returned.”

Henry will discuss student travel plans with Red Deer Public Schools’ board of trustees on Wednesday.


Wolf Creek Public Schools postpones trip to China

Teacher charged in 2017 death of student who drowned on trip to Algonquin Park

In early February, Wolf Creek Public Schools postponed its student exchange trip to China due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Kurt Sacher, superintendent at Chinook’s Edge School Division, said two student band trips to New Orleans, La., were recently cancelled for April.

“With the developments taking place in the United States, we felt it was only a matter of time until the situation could change, and we really wanted to make the decision before a March 7 deadline, where they would have been forced to forfeit significant amounts of funds,” said Sacher about the trips booked through a travel company.

A few years ago, Chinook’s Edge trustees decided to only allow students to travel to the continental U.S and Canada.

Sacher said groups wanting to travel to other countries are encouraged to do so through community groups and make their own decisions about whether to proceed when risks arise.

“We were finding there would be places where the board would want to cancel trips, and parents might see it differently. You just find yourself in conflict.”

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