Student trip to Italy was cancelled for Mount Douglas Secondary amid COVID-19 fears. (Google Image)

Coronavirus causes cancellation of Saanich school trips

School district cancels Italian trips by Mount Douglas and Royal Oak students

The Greater Victoria School District (SD61) and the Saanich School District (SD63) will cancel two student trips to Italy amid concerns over a COVID-19 travel advisory.

The SD61 cancelled trip involves 16 students from Mount Douglas Secondary scheduled to travel on a cruise excursion during spring break. According to Dave Eberwein, Saanich School District superintendent, Royal Oak Middle School will reschedule their student trip to Italy and Germany.

The district’s choice to cancel the trips comes after a level three travel advisory issued for the northern region of Italy. Both districts will decide whether to cancel any trips on a case-by-case basis.

Concerned parents from Parkland Secondary will meet on Wednesday night with school officials to discuss the potential cancellation of a trip to England, France and Spain.

Cancellations will be discussed and plans will be shared with parents, but no cancellations have been announced at this time, Eberwein said.

In Italy, a country that has now reported the highest number of the coronavirus cases outside of Asia, authorities reported Monday that they have 1,694 confirmed cases of the virus, up from just 1,100 on Saturday. Eleven cities and towns have been placed on lock-down, banning people from entering or leaving affected areas. The move has put an estimated 100,000 people under quarantine.

ALSO READ: Sooke School District cancels one student trip and reviews another over COVID-19 scare

SD61 said they are closely monitoring the trip advisory to decide if any other student trips abroad need to be cancelled. Any non-essential travel to affected areas will be avoided.

SD 61 will increase cleaning and handwashing within their schools. In addition, a letter home to remind parents and guardians of the importance of handwashing and respiratory etiquette was sent.

“Student safety is our first priority, and the school district will continue to assess each scheduled trip case by case,” according to a release from the Greater Victoria School District.

Sooke School District officials joined the two districts in cancelling one oversees school trip while another is in doubt. The first trip planned for Journey Middle School students that would have seen 21 students depart for Japan on March 14 has been cancelled. The second trip, planned by students at Edward Milne Community School, is under review.

With files from Tim Collins.

ALSO READ: B.C. confirms 9th case of COVID-19 as man who travelled to Iran

sarah.schuchard@saanichnews.com


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