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More Winnipeg high schools cancel travel due to coronavirus fears, students sent home from Japan

Click to play video 'Winnipeg students return home from Japan amid COVID-19 fears' Winnipeg students return home from Japan amid COVID-19 fears
Students from the Louis Riel School Division return to Winnipeg earlier than expected from an exchange trip to Japan amid fears over COVID-19, Global's Abigail Turner reports – Mar 9, 2020

In light of ongoing concerns around COVID-19, one Winnipeg school division has cancelled two student trips abroad and another is bringing students home early from an exchange program in Japan.

In a statement Thursday, Pembina Trails School Division said it was being cautious in cancelling two high school trips this month.

“A group of École Secondaire Oak Park High School students had planned to go to Thailand, and Fort Richmond Collegiate had an itinerary that included Italy,” the division said.

“We believe in the rich opportunities that travel can provide, yet understand that this situation is fluid.

“The health and safety of our students always comes first.”

The division said the possibility of 14-day quarantines was also a factor in the decision to cancel the trips, and that they’re following travel advisories set out by the federal government.

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Meanwhile 12 students from the Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) are returning to Winnipeg earlier than expected from Kochi, Japan after that country’s government decided to close schools amid fears over COVID-19.

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The division confirmed Thursday the students were in Japan as part of an annual exchange program.

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“Students were checked and cleared by Japanese health representatives before departing and will also be screened on their return to Canada before moving onto their final destination,” reads a statement from the LRSD.

There was no word from the division on when exactly the students would be arriving back in Winnipeg.

The division said it’s following screening guidelines set out by the Public Health Agency of Canada and Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living and the students will not enter self-isolation unless required.

Pembina Trails isn’t the first local school division to cancel trips due to coronavirus fears.

Earlier this week, three other Winnipeg high schools nixed plans to send their students abroad, or in some cases modified their travel arrangements.

A spokesperson from St. Mary’s Academy told Global News on Tuesday that adjustments were made to one of two planned trips to ensure the students don’t fly through Italy.

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Both Kelvin and Grant Park schools also adjusted plans, with Kelvin students originally slated to visit China and Grant Park students planned to go to northern Italy.

The federal travel advisories suggest avoiding all non-essential travel to China, among other countries.

Click to play video 'Winnipeg schools adjusting trip plans amid COVID-19' Winnipeg schools adjusting trip plans amid COVID-19
Winnipeg schools adjusting trip plans amid COVID-19 – Mar 3, 2020