Now that students across Nova Scotia are dealing with news that their international school trips have been cancelled due to the outbreak of COVID-19, many are turning their attention to how they’ll be able to get reimbursed – whether financially, or through travel vouchers.
One of those students is Millwood High student, Morgan Rumsey, who spent several months working to save up $4,000 for her semi-annual school trip to Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
“I’m just hoping that I can get something back. Even if it’s just a voucher to go on a different trip, or even at least half the money and my parents didn’t help me with it, I did it all myself,” a disheartened Rumsey said.
On Wednesday, the Halifax Regional Centre for Education, along with other regional education centres across N.S., announced all international school trips will be cancelled until the end of April.
The statement released from HRCE states that the decision was made based on discussions with the provincial chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang.
HRCE decided a “low-risk” approach was the ideal decision based on the fact that student safety was involved.
However, Rumsey feels the assessment should have been made based on destinations that carried a higher risk of COVID-19 infections.
“I feel like Ireland, Scotland and Wales is kind of safer environment, anyways. I get the March break trips to Italy being put off because there’s an outbreak there,” Rumsey said.
According to the latest data from the World Health Organization, Italy is the hardest hit European country with over 3,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 107 deaths.
While there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland and the United Kingdom, there have been no deaths.
Canada has been holding steady at 30 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
In terms of reimbursement, Rumsey says she had insurance but not the specific insurance required through the tour company to be able to easily access reimbursment.
“I had my own travel insurance and we figured that would cover everything, the fees, cover everything but if you didn’t get the Explorica insurance, it apparently doesn’t count,” she said.
Rumsey says a few months after she began making payments for her trip, she decided to get Explorica insurance but learned you can’t buy it when you’re 44 days past the time of booking.
Now, she and other students, along with the teacher who would have been a chaperone on the trip, are holding out hope that they’ll be able to get some form of reimbursement.
Meanwhile, HRCE says it’s providing any necessary documentation to students who are working to have their trips reimbursed.
“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,” Doug Hadley said, the spokesperson with HRCE.
Hadley says the regional centre is encouraging parents and school communities to “continue communication” with their travel providers on reimbursement.