Edmonton Catholic, public schools cancel more field trips amid coronavirus outbreak

More school trips have been cancelled by Edmonton Public Schools and Edmonton Catholic Schools amid the ongoing outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Edmonton Public Schools said Wednesday it has cancelled all international field trips until the end of April. The cancellation impacts 23 trips from 19 schools which were scheduled over spring break and into April. Trips were planned to Europe and the United States.

“Due to the evolving nature of coronavirus, we feel this is the most appropriate step to take to keep our students and staff safe,” Edmonton public spokesperson Megan Normandeau said.

Normandeau said the cancellations affect about 600 students and 85 supervisors, which include Edmonton Public School staff.

The school division said it is working with families on the “financial aspect” of cancelling the trips, but Normandeau couldn’t say how much families might be out.

“Every school will be having those conversations with the impacted students and their families. Every school is going to be a little bit different depending on travel providers and insurance implications and things like that,” she said.

“This is not something that is going to be new to our families. We’ve been having these conversations for weeks now and although the field trips were cancelled today, it’s definitely not something that was not on their radar before now.”

Edmonton Catholic Schools also announced Wednesday it has cancelled the remaining portion of a high school trip to Europe over spring break.

Last week, the school board announced it would cancel the Italy portion of the trip due to the spread of COVID-19, but still planned to visit Spain. On Wednesday, the school division announced the Spain portion is also cancelled.

“I think the concern is that we may be able to get the students over to Europe but what if they’d have to be in quarantine because something happens there? We might not be able to get them home. So with too many unknowns, we’ve decided to err on the side of caution,” Edmonton Catholic Schools spokesperson Lori Nagy said.

Fifty-one students from Austin O’Brien and St. Oscar Romero high schools were scheduled to take the trip to Italy and Spain. Nagy said the health and safety and students and staff is the division’s first priority.

“It looks like these trips will not be rescheduled because they were specifically for spring break. We will see perhaps next spring break if that is different, but for some of these high school students, this was Grade 12 and so unfortunately, they will not be able to go an international field trip,” Nagy said.

Edmonton Catholic Schools is working with the tour provider on refunds, Nagy said.

“Our understanding is that they may be out a few hundred for insurance and a deposit. But we are hoping to get all of the money back for parents.”

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