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West Shore parents forced to settle for vouchers for cancelled 2020 school trip

Parents refunded $1,600 of the $2,900 spent for Spencer Middle School students’ trip to Disneyland
Spencer Middle School in Langford is part of SD62. (Black Press Media file photo)

Parents at Spencer Middle School are asking the Sooke School District for a refund on flights they booked for a school trip two years ago, with the deadline ticking on the vouchers they were issued.

Kris Waygood is a parent of one of the 27 students who paid $2,900 for a music band trip to Disneyland in California which was set to leave March 17, 2020.

With the pandemic disrupting those plans, parents were given a refund on $1,600 of the costs via travel insurance the district purchased, but a flight voucher was given for the $1,295 spent on plane tickets with United Airlines.

That voucher had a limit on it of December 2021, but travel restrictions into the U.S. were still in place.

The deadline for those vouchers was extended to Dec. 31, 2022 but Waygood said of the 18 parents he’s heard back from, only two have been able to use them.

Waygood said the problem is the voucher can’t be split between multiple flights but only used for one flight, so families would have to buy more tickets to travel as a family.

Waygood is now pushing for the school district to refund the vouchers or buy them for district use.

He’s been in contact with the school district frequently over the past two years without making much headway and is considering legal action as a remedy.

“There are lots of other parents who are worse off and they could have easily used that money or can still use that money. So if it cost me some money to fight for them, I have no problem with that.”

A survey done by Forbes Advisor of American travellers found that 50 per cent of adults have canceled a trip due to COVID. Of those who canceled trips, 83 per cent lost money as a result. More than 40 per cent of those who lost money lost more than $1,500.

In a statement, a spokesperson for SD62 said the travel insurance the district had purchased covered the group travel arrangements but not the flights.

“The district worked with the travel agency to provide vouchers for the full amount of the flight costs. The provider chose not to refund the costs but to issue vouchers for the flight costs instead. The vouchers are transferable to another individual at no additional cost.”

ALSO READ: SD62 capital plan includes seismic upgrades for Port Renfrew, 3 new West Shore schools


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