Vernon School District students heading to Europe

Vernon School District trustees have approved a 2018 spring break trip to Europe for Vernon Secondary School students

Lisa de Boer

Lisa de Boer

For many students, an overseas trip provides memories of a lifetime.

Vernon School District trustees have approved a 2018 spring break trip to Europe for Vernon Secondary School students, but not without some reservations.

Trustee Robert Lee expressed his concerns about the Grade 11 and 12 trip to France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

“I know we can’t be totally responsible for all the kids all the time, but we are sending children to a country where there has been terrorist activity,” said Lee. “Germany has had a few issues as well, so I just bring that forward as a concern.”

Superintendent Joe Rogers said EF Educational Tours, which is organizing the trip along with VSS teacher Rolf Hirschkorn and vice-principal Jeff Huggins, has years of experience.

“And Rolf and Jeff have done this seven times,” said Rogers. “EF tours, if there are issues around security and safety, the entire cost of the tour is paid back to students, so there is an insurance policy if there are any issues.

“But we can’t obviously plan for everything; but parents know that ahead of time, so parents make those decisions and decide whether they want their child to participate.

“It’s not until the spring of 2018 so we have some time but the board can certainly amend the motion, to say approval is based on the safety of our students, and the recommendations of the Canadian government whether they should participate in the tour.”

Trustee Lisa de Boer said she is supportive of the approval process but also wants to be aware of safety.

“I think we need to step back and look at what is happening this year that wasn’t happening two or three years ago — and top of mind is what has happened in Paris, so it made be step back a little bit more and it just gives me pause.”

Trustee Mitzi Fortin said she would hate to see students deprived of an opportunity to travel.

“Safety is first, but we have to also let them experience the world, and I know we have experienced teachers with them and for us to say no when previous years have gone, I don’t think that’s fair to this group of kids,” she said.

And a Kalamalka Secondary trip to Panama, for Students Without Borders Academy/Leadership/Global Ed brought up a concern, although trustees have approved the travel scheduled for Dec. 29 to Feb. 1.

Trustee Doris Squair expressed concerns about the presence of the zika virus in Panama.

Kal teacher David Fehr, who has led a number of these trips, was born in Panama.

“The zika virus is there but not in regions that we go to that I’m aware of,” said Fehr.