Nova Scotia cancels all school-sanctioned international trips over COVID-19 concerns

Nova Scotia Education Minister Zach Churchill speaks during a press conference in Halifax on Wednesday, January 24, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

All Nova Scotia school trips to international locations have been cancelled due to concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to Education Minister Zach Churchill.

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Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Churchill said the decision was made by regional centres for education.

“They decided to take a low-risk approach at this particular point in time considering the risk of COVID-19,” Churchill said.

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

The decision is in effect until April 30. Churchill said they will review the situation again at that date.

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“The situation’s fluid,” he said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen over the next number of months … getting close to (April 30), they’ll be reviewing how to approach international travel after that.”

Chruchill reiterated that this was not a decision that came from him or the Department of Education, but the regional centres for education themselves.

“That is an important distinction, particularly for insurance coverage purposes,” Churchill said. “It was decided at their level, which is a decision I do support, that they were going to cancel all international travel, even in areas that aren’t deemed to be high risk right now.”

Churchill said there was concern with students going through international airports with travellers from all over the world.

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“The regional centres for education deemed that it was best, at this particular time, to reduce risk to the best of our ability.”

Click to play video: 'N.S. high school’s march break trip to avoid northern Italy due to coronavirus' N.S. high school’s march break trip to avoid northern Italy due to coronavirus
N.S. high school’s march break trip to avoid northern Italy due to coronavirus – Feb 25, 2020

Over the weekend, three Conseil Scolaire Acadien Provincial (CSAP) schools rescinded its approval for trips overseas, citing their priority on student safety.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Tri-County Regional Centre for Education announced all school-sanctioned international trips would be cancelled.

“Based on discussions with Dr. Robert Strang … we decided the best approach is a low-risk one, given that students are involved,” reads a letter to staff and parents.

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More to come.

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