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COVID-19 could cancel Coquitlam kids' school trips

About 20 trips are planned in next two months for School District 43 students and those journeys are in jeopardy due to fears about the novel coronavirus
Air Canada has a goodwill policy for changing some flights to areas hard hit by COVID-19 coronavirus
Air Canada has a goodwill policy for changing flights to areas hard hit by the COVID-19 coronavirus. Meanwhile, School District 43 is looking at upcoming school field trips abroad to see if changes are required.

School District 43 students looking forward to travelling this spring break may have their plans disrupted because of coronavirus, The Tri-City News has learned.

SD43 has confirmed that close to 20 school trips have been planned for both inside and outside of Canada between now and May, and each is being scrutinized to see if it should go ahead.

“We will likely have some decisions coming on the most imminent trips this week,” SD43 spokesperson Ken Hoff said in an emailed statement this week.

Tuesday, provincial health officer Bonnie Henry advised school districts to do a risk assessment of any travel, especially to affected areas, and recommended other travellers to consider the changing global situation, the public health capabilities of their travel destinations and their willingness to be in quarantine if necessary.

The situation is casting a pall on travel plans world-wide, as well as here in the Tri-Cities.

Travel during spring break is a popular thing to do to expand on classroom learning. In past years, students have gone to Europe to visit Canadian war memorials, have travelled for music and choir performances and to visit centres known for the performing arts, such as New York City.

Having to postpone or cancel such a trip could be a disappointment for students, who often have to raise funds to offset costs.

In response to travellers’ concerns, a number of airlines are waiving change fees for trips to Italy, where 2,500 people have been confirmed as having the disease and 79 people have died. For example Air Canada has implemented a goodwill policy that applies to flights to, from or via cities in China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Italy.

The airlines also notes that it has protocol for screening people who are unwell and in the last year entered a partnership with another company that monitors infectious disease outbreaks all over the world and provides the airline with information in real-time to ensure appropriate decisions are made.

Meanwhile, the government of Canada has added a health caution for people arriving from Iran.