Nova Scotia schools cancel international trips
HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia is grounding all international school trips over rising concerns about COVID-19.
More than 1,200 students across Nova Scotia will not be packing their bags for a school adventure abroad for at least the next couple of months.
Schools and students have been fundraising for months -- even years -- for these trips and now some parents may be on the hook for the expense after Nova Scotia's regional centres for education decided to cancel all school trips to international destinations until April 30.
Education Minister Zach Churchill said it was a difficult decision, but Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang encouraged them to adopt a low-risk approach to protect students and chaperones.
"This was a difficult decision that was not made lightly," Churchill said in the statement. "The situation involving COVID-19 continues to evolve and the regions made the decision based on discussions with Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, to adopt a low-risk approach for students and chaperones. I fully support this direction."
If parents did not buy cancellation insurance they may not be able to recoup the money.
The minister said the schools are working with those families and travel companies about options.
According to one parent, Ian Hape, they have been given three options: use the refund insurance, take a voucher, or just wait until after April 30 to see if travel arrangements can be accommodated.
The Halifax Regional Centre for Education says it hasn't made a decision regarding trips scheduled for May and June.
In New Brunswick, the provincial government isn't getting involved. The education department says it doesn't organize international trips involving students and staff, so Education Minister Dominic Cardy is leaving those decisions up to those who do.
A group of students departed for Italy from Greater Moncton International Airport on Saturday -- a March break trip organized by EF Educational Tours despite concerns over COVID-19.
With the students are set to return from southern Italy this Saturday, the province's chief medical officer of health says in a statement: "At the current time, travellers returning from Italy are being advised to self-monitor, but this could change."
A March-break trip organized at Moncton High School that is also scheduled for Italy has been postponed until June, if the outbreak is contained.
-- With files from CTV Atlantic's Marie Adsett.