INNISFAIL – Chinook's Edge School School Division out-of-country travel previously endorsed by the board has been cancelled effective Wednesday, March 11 until the end of April in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trustees made the decision during yesterday's board meeting. The new directive includes student and staff trips and is effective until April 30.
In a statement made yesterday, the World Health Organization said COVID-19 could now be described as a pandemic. As of the time of reporting on March 11, the provincial government said there were 19 confirmed cases in Alberta.
Last week, a jointly planned band trip to New Orleans in April by Penhold Crossing Secondary School and Ecole Olds High School had already been cancelled in light of developments around novel coronavirus.
“Our board has been very proactive when it comes to student travel,” said CESD superintendent Kurt Sacher last week, noting trips to Europe have been restricted by CESD for more than a year.
He said they are continuing to monitor the situation.
“We do have a pandemic plan that we’ll be briefing the board on as to the latest updates there so that we are prepared for worst case scenarios,” he added prior to the meeting.
“We’re doing everything expected and we’re putting out additional messaging over and above what we normally do relative to proper hand washing for students, staff and visitors,” he said. “We’re keeping everybody aware and we’re staying in touch with Alberta Health,” he said, noting that if things do change or the risk level changes they will take the proper advice from Alberta Health Services.
When contacted last week, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS) spokesperson Haleigh Packer said they were not cancelling any trips at the time but were monitoring the situation.
“If something does come up, (trips) will get re-routed,” said Packer, noting they are following the World Health Organization updates, Canadian travel advisories and working with the tour companies.
“We’re just going to keep monitoring the situation coming up to the trips,” explained Packer.
She confirmed that RDCRS had two schools that were planning three trips to Europe in March.
Ecole Secondaire Notre Dame High School had a group of students going to Spain and another group originally scheduled to go to Italy, Croatia and Spain has now been re-routed to Germany, Croatia and Spain. Students from St. Joseph High School are travelling to Central Europe, including Germany, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary.
In addition, international students from Taiwan that were scheduled to arrive in Central Alberta at the end of March have been postponed to September, she noted.
Albertans can visit alberta.ca/COVID19 for guidance around prevention, testing and other information.
- With files from Lea Smaldon