A planned spring trip by the PECI venture class to Washington, D.C., is being shelved as part of a full cancelation of all international trips by the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board.
Director of Education Sean Monteith and the HPEDSB announced Wednesday that staff and Board administration have been watching the evolving events around the world as they pertain to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), and the responding actions being taken by countries, governments and even school boards.
“The Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board is no exception. Due to the increasing concern about the spread of COVID-19, the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board is cancelling all international school trips effective immediately. The sole reason for this action at this time is the safety of students, staff and travelling chaperones,” Monteith said in a letter.
The cancellation comes amid travel advisories for much of Europe and Asia to try to contain any further spread of the virus, and follows extensive conversations with local health authorities, the provincial government and representatives through the Ministry of Education, and school boards across Ontario.
“I recognize that this will be disappointing to our students, staff and your families; however, we are not prepared to risk illness for unnecessary travel and are equally unprepared to compromise safety in any way,” Monteith said. “Our schools are working with the respective travel companies to investigate options for accessing refunds. Please contact your child’s school if you have any questions.”
PECI’s Venture Class was scheduled to go to the US Capital area May 5-8.
According to a letter sent home to Venture program parents, families would be recouping the costs of the trip organized through Brightspark minus the mandatory Travel Guard insurance waiver cost, believed to be around $50.
Among the stops included visits to historic Gettysburg National Military Park, Arlington cemetery, the Smithsonian, the Holocaust Museum and a Washington Nationals Major League Baseball game.
“The students safety is always first priority and while there are naturally some disappointed students, we understand that this step had to be taken by the school board,” PECI Venture program teacher Heather Munroe said.