The Vernon School District has cancelled spring break trips in following with the province’s health recommendations amide COVID-19. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Vernon schools cancel spring break trips amid COVID-19

District urging against non-essential travel, and for those who do, to stay home from school for 14 days

The Vernon School District is taking a page from the province in recommending against all non-essential travel outside of Canada and asking anyone who does travel to stay home from school for 14 days upon return.

In addition, after careful consideration, and out of concern for the risk to students and staff, the Board of Education has made the decision to cancel all future international school district trips scheduled over Spring Break. A trip planned for international students to Banff, was also cancelled.

As the situation rapidly evolves around the spread of COVID-19, the school district is adhering to the recommendations of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, the Ministries of both Health and Education and the Government of Canada.

“The safety of our students and staff is our top priority,” superintendent Joe Rogers said in a March 13 letter to parents, the last day of school following spring break.

Updates will be posted to the District website.

There were four trips planned: students already left March 11 to Germany/Austria/France, a London trip was planned March 15, students were expected to leave March 14 to England/Scotland and a trip to Paris was also scheduled over spring break.

“We are working with the travel providers to determine whether the trips will be postponed or refunded,” the school district’s media and communications specialist Maritza Reilly said. “We are also working with the group who have already left for Europe to determine what actions will be necessary upon their return.”

The Vernon School District’s decision to cancel trips comes much later than neighbouring jurisdictions, which cancelled trips in the first week of March.

Parent Jerrod Aaron Hutchings is a little disappointed that his child will not be able to gain the life experience anymore.

“My kiddo was scheduled to go to England tomorrow (March 14) for spring break with her English class. The decision was made last night to cancel the trip and look at rescheduling in August. Unfortunate, but it is what it is.”

B.C. health officials are now recommending against all non-essential travel outside of Canada. Anyone who travels abroad must stay home from work or school for 14 days upon their return to the province.

“For all families travelling, please monitor your health while travelling and after you return,” said Rogers. “If you have been to areas known to have transmission of COVID-19, and have any cold or influenza symptoms, even if they’re mild, stay away from others, and call your health care provider, 8-1-1, or Interior Health.”

To assist in preventing and controlling respiratory viruses, the following guidelines are offered:

– People who are ill with respiratory illness symptoms: fever, cough, fatigue, and/or muscle aches, are to follow usual practices for taking sick leave.

– Follow the consistent practice of good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene. Good respiratory etiquette includes covering the mouth and nose during coughing or sneezing with a tissue or a flexed elbow and disposing of used tissues in a plastic-lined waste container, followed by hand hygiene. Hand hygiene is the washing of hands with plain soap and water, which is effective at removing visible soil as well as viruses.

Over the past week, there have been a number of meetings and conversations with the superintendent, Board of Education chair, school principals, teachers and families regarding upcoming spring break trips.

“There are also a number of school field trips planned for later in the spring to Quebec and the United States,” Reilly said. “The board will consider the most accurate information closer to the departure date before determining if those trips can proceed. We will continue to work closely with our schools on this evolving situation.”

READ MORE: Jane Goodall, and possibly more Vernon visits, cancelled due to COVID-19

READ MORE: Courtesy riders could get boot from Vernon buses


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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