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N.S. English schools still proceeding with travel plans amid COVID-19 concerns

Some Nova Scotia schools still proceeding with travel plans amid COVID-19 concerns
WATCH: The Francophone school board in Nova Scotia has decided against allowing students to travel to Europe amidst fears of the COVID-19 outbreak. But as Alexa MacLean reports, trips for students in the English public school system remain set to travel.

Northern Italy is the latest region to be impacted by non-essential travel advisories amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The Canadian government upgraded the travel advisory for northern Italy to a Level 3, one level away from the strictest guidelines, which is to “avoid all travel.”

READ MORE: Canada issues travel advisory as Italy grapples with coronavirus

The Canadian government says a Level 3 notice is issued during a “large-scale outbreak in a large geographic area.”

With March break kicking off across Canada, many people are preparing for vacations and trips. But some of those trips have been impacted by the global health emergency.

In particular, three Conseil Scolaire Acadien Provincial (CSAP) schools had trips planned overseas for the March break. Over the weekend, CSAP rescinded its approval for those trips.

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“This decision was taken by the elected board members during their meeting which took place on Feb. 29.  The board’s priority remains the safety of our students, with the information available, the elected officials rescinded their motion to approve the three school trips in question,” Stéphanie Comeau said, a CSAP representative.

READ MORE: N.S. high school’s March break trip to avoid northern Italy due to coronavirus

Comeau says some parents voiced their concerns over the trips planned for Europe, which is partly what influenced the board to withdraw its approval.

Meanwhile, Dartmouth High School still has a trip to Italy planned through the tour company EF tours.

EF tours says it has changed its travel itinerary due to the outbreak.

In a statement to Global News, the company confirmed they would be rerouting any trips that included Milan.

“The health and safety of the students, educators, and parents who travel with us is always our top priority, and we are closely monitoring the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus around the world … We are not sending groups to the impacted regions in northern Italy,” the statement reads.

The company says they will absorb costs of trips they are modifying and are offering flexible alternatives to groups. They are also allowing groups to take a refund in the form of a travel voucher right up to the day of departure.

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As of Feb. 28, Education Minister Zach Churchill said the decision for Dartmouth High School to carry on with their trips remains “fluid.”

“We believe that right now the travel companies, parents, school communities are best positioned to make decisions on travel,” he said.

The Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE) says it is continuing to monitor government health and travel advisories for the region.

“At this time, schools with trips planned to Europe – specifically Italy – are working with tour operators and families to examine available options if they wish to alter their travel plans,” said HRCE spokesperson Doug Hadley.

“We are also encouraging families to continue communicating with both their school and the tour operator.”