Due to the daily changes in public health information surrounding COVID-19, the Comox Valley School District (SD71) has cancelled all overseas travel, including scheduled trips to China, Italy and Germany, for the remainder of the school year.
In a letter sent home to parents, Tom Demeo, superintendent of the district said the decision was made as the district cannot ensure the safety of students and staff.
“This was a difficult decision, and one we did not make lightly,” he wrote. “The safety of students and staff is paramount. The impact of COVID-19 is serious, and we must take the appropriate steps to ensure students’ and staff safety.”
Earlier this month, the district issued cancellation notices for its China and Italy trip, but noted a trip to Germany was “being closely monitored.”
As a result of the transmission of COVID-19 now present in 15 of 16 German states, the district made the decision to cancel the Germany exchange trip during spring break.
“We are aware that this decision brings with it disappointment for the loss of a long-anticipated learning opportunity for your children,” added Demeo. “We also understand that there is potential for a financial impact to all families as a result of this cancellation. Please know that this was difficult, but the health and welfare of your child was at the forefront of our decision amidst this unique and dynamic world health crisis.”
Demeo added the district is working alongside International Education staff to understand the financial impact to families due to cancellation and are developing a compensation package to address the matter.
“We will continue to monitor this worldwide health crisis as we have school trips planned for the spring of 2020 into the United States, and in particular, Washington State, where a state of emergency has been declared in response to the outbreak of COVID-19,” he noted.
SD71 spokeswoman Mary Lee previously explained senior management has been monitoring the COVID-19 situation carefully, and the school district has restored supplies of hand sanitizer at all of the school sites.
“The best defence is to continue to educate staff, students and visitors to follow well-established hygiene practices, including handwashing, coughing into your elbow and staying at home if the following are experiences within the past 24 hours: fever, vomiting, chills, tiredness and/or diarrhea.”
She said the district encourages anyone who is concerned they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus should contact their primary care provide, local public health unit or call 8-1-1 (HealthLink BC).