Toronto Catholic, York Region school boards cancel trips to Europe amid spread of COVID-19

Click to play video: 'Some GTA school boards cancel international trips amid concerns over COVID-19' Some GTA school boards cancel international trips amid concerns over COVID-19
WATCH: As the number of cases of COVID-19 in Ontario continue to grow, some school boards in the GTA have already cancelled international trips. Erica Vella reports – Mar 4, 2020

The Toronto Catholic and York Region public school boards have announced trips to Europe have been cancelled amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

Rory McGuckin, the director of education with the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB), said he made the cancellation decision “out of an abundance of caution and concern” for the “safety” of participants.

“Our board does not allow travel to places that pose a risk to the health of our students, and we do not consider travel to these countries to be safe,” he wrote in a statement released on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Thames Valley District School Board cancels class trips to Europe as COVID-19 spreads

“There exist concerns that our students and staff could be exposed to the virus in airports and other public spaces, while on tour, or potentially even endure lengthy quarantines.

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“The senior team believes this is the right thing to do in these challenging times.”

Twelve TCDSB schools had trips planned over March Break and Easter.

A spokesperson for the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) said three trips to Europe planned throughout March have been cancelled, adding the board is monitoring developments and could cancel further trips in the future.

As of Tuesday, there were 20 cases of COVID-19 in Ontario.

Dr. David Williams, the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, said the two latest people to test positive for COVID-19 had recently returned from trips to Iran and Egypt. Other recent patients, including three announced on Monday, either had a similar travel history or were closely related to those who did.

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“At this time, the virus is not circulating locally,” Williams said.

“The province continues to carefully monitor this situation.”

READ MORE: 2 new cases of Coronavirus in Ontario, total now at 20 in province

Williams said the first of the new Ontario cases involves a woman in her 70s living in York Region north of Toronto. He said she returned from Egypt on Feb. 20 and reported to a hospital in Richmond Hill, 10 days later.

The other new case involves a Toronto-area man in his 50s who returned from Iran on Feb. 25 and went to hospital on Feb. 29.

Williams said both patients were released and are now in self-isolation at home.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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