HALIFAX -- As covid-19 continues to spread outside China, concern is growing over eagerly-anticipated March-break trips for dozens of high school students in the Halifax area.

Many of them are scheduled to stop in Italy, but with a large swath of that country in lockdown because of the novel coronavirus, a lot of questions are being asked about how it should be handled.

The tour company insists it's not sending students to the impacted areas of northern Italy and intends to offer the groups a number of alternatives, including delays, changing destinations, or changing the itinerary entirely.

Dozens of students are involved, including a group from Dartmouth High School.

As is usually the case, students and parents fundraised for months to raise enough money to help pay for these once-in-a-lifetime trips.

At Cole Harbour High School, there are close to 40 students booked to go.

The company organizing the trips is EF Educational Tours. It has been around for more than 50 years and specializes in school trips.

In a statement to CTV News, the company insisted it will offer "flexible alternatives" to groups, including delaying the trip, changing destinations within an existing itinerary, or changing the itinerary entirely.

Still, some parents say they are concerned -- especially if their children wind up being exposed to covid-19.

"I have some concerns about what happens to my son if he gets into one of these countries, and they become locked down," said Ian Hape, the parent of a student at Cole Harbour High. "Who's going to be responsible for my son?"

For its part, EF Educational Tours says safety is always its top priority, and it consistently follows travel recommendations provided by the government of Canada.

The company says it continues to monitor the situation as it evolves and remains committed to providing groups with flexible options as needed.

The statement goes on to say: "If Canadian officials do issue a travel advisory, we would steer all scheduled groups towards the flexible alternatives as our policy is not to send tour groups to areas under such warnings."