School division cancels trips to Thailand, Italy amid coronavirus outbreak
This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). (CDC via AP, File)
WINNIPEG -- The Pembina Trails School Division said its cancelled two student trips planned for March because of the coronavirus outbreak.
A group of students at École Secondaire Oak Park High School were set to go to Thailand, and students at Fort Ricmond Collegiate were planning on going to Italy, but both trips are no longer happening.
"We have been carefully following COVID-19 travel advice and advisories set out by the Government of Canada," said a spokesperson for the division in an email.
"Out of an abundance of caution, and considering the possibility of 14-day quarantines, it was decided to cancel two high school trips with March departure dates."
Earlier this week, CTV News Winnipeg reported that a group of students in the Winnipeg School Division had to change travel plans due to the spread of the virus.
Radean Carter, senior information officer for the Winnipeg School Division, explained that there are two types student trips: ones that are specifically sponsored by the school division, which they have the authority to cancel, and ones that are spring break pleasure trips organized by students and parents, which the school division doesn't have the authority to cancel.
This year there are five unsponsored trips, and two of them – one heading to China and another to Italy – had to change their itineraries. The changes were made as soon as the Canadian government-issued travel advisories for the areas.
"One trip from Grant Park was originally planning on going to a part of Italy that the Canadian government has put out an alert for coronavirus so they're still going to Europe but they're now going to some other countries a little bit more north of Italy. So it's not a cancellation it was a change," she said, noting the group from Kelvin High School that was planning on going to China is now going to western Europe.
"Obviously, China was definitely off the plate," she said.
The other spring break trips in the division are to Costa Rica, western Europe and the Mediterranean. All of the sponsored trips are within Canada and the United States.
A group of 12 students in the Louis Riel School Division who are on an exchange program in Japan are being brought back home over coronavirus concerns. The decision to cut the exchange program short comes after the Japanese government decided to close schools.
Japan has 360 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and of those, six people have died.
"Students were checked and cleared by Japanese health representatives before departing and will also be screened on their return to Canada before moving onto their final destination," a spokesperson for the Louis Riel School Division told CTV News in a written statement.
The spokesperson said the division is following both provincial and federal guidelines for screening.
"The students will not be entering into self-isolation unless it is required, as outlined in the Public Health Agency of Canada's guidelines," the spokesperson said.
The students are expected back in Canada on Friday afternoon.
- With files from CTV's Danton Unger.