High school students across Nova Scotia are dealing with the recent update from the education department that all school-sanctioned international trips have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Education minister Zach Churchill made the announcement Wednesday afternoon, and it comes with mixed emotions for youth who have spent many months fundraising and planning March break trips.
“I was really looking forward to the trip, but honestly it wasn’t worth the risk and I’m really glad that they decided to cancel it but it was an opportunity I don’t think I’ll receive again unfortunately,” Nicole Joseph said, a high school student from Dartmouth.
There were 14 school trips planned for the Halifax Regional Centre for Education district. Communications officer Doug Hadley, says upwards of 600 students are affected by the cancellations.
Some students like Joseph, were travelling to Italy, which is the hardest-hit country outside of China by COVID-19.
The latest information from the World Health Organization, states 80 people have died in Italy, the highest number of deaths outside of China.
“I’m sure there is a great disappointment for many students, they have been looking forward to these trips for many months and in some cases maybe more than a year, but for us we have to consider the health and safety of our students and staff,” Hadley said.
Hadley says information about COVID-19 is rapidly evolving and growing travel advisories led to school principals and communities consulting with HRCE to make the decision.
Meanwhile, not all students feel widespread cancellations were necessary. Especially, for trips planned to countries where the confirmed number of COVID-19 cases are very low.
Kearney was one of 20 high school students selected from across the province to participate in a leadership camp in Campeche, Mexico.
The group has been working for several months to raise funds and organize the trip, which included money and supplies like toothbrushes that would have gone to Mexican charities.
According to the latest data from World Health Organization, Mexico has five confirmed cases of COVID-19 and no deaths.
Canada has 30 confirmed cases.
“We find it very unfair. We weren’t consulted at all. I know the minister mentioned in his statement the other day that parents and students would be consulted but our parents, none of us, we weren’t consulted about this,” Kearney said.