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Coronavirus: Vernon students home from European trip, in self-isolation

A tourist wearing a mask makes a selfie outside the Louvre museum Friday, Feb. 28, 2020 in Paris.
A tourist wearing a mask makes a selfie outside the Louvre museum Friday, Feb. 28, 2020 in Paris. AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh

A group of students and adults from the Vernon school district who travelled overseas last week, prior to international travel restrictions, are back home and self-isolating.

Superintendent of schools, Joe Rogers, said 32 students and 11 adults travelled to Paris, France on Wednesday, March 11.

The federal government did have an “active travel health notice” in place for France at that time due to cases of COVID-19 community transmission, but the Public Health Agency of Canada did not recommend people cancel or postpone trips there.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Some Okanagan school trips continue while others are cancelled

The day the students left, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronoavirus a pandemic. 

Managing anxiety during the spread of coronavirus
Managing anxiety during the spread of coronavirus

The following day, Health Minister Adrian Dix and B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry recommended against all non-essential travel outside of Canada, including to the United States.

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Dix and Henry also advised that anyone who chooses to travel outside of Canada from then on would be asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days upon their return. That was followed by the federal government’s global travel advisory to avoid non-essential travel abroad.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Passenger on Vancouver-Kelowna WestJet flight tests positive for COVID-19

Rogers said the school district worked with the tour company, EF Tours, to book the students and adults flights home.

Coronavirus outbreak: Couple stuck in Spain amid COVID-19 outbreak as Canadians abroad try to return home
Coronavirus outbreak: Couple stuck in Spain amid COVID-19 outbreak as Canadians abroad try to return home

“Everyone arrived home yesterday, Sunday March 15, and they have been directed to self-isolate for 14 days,” Rogers said.

READ MORE: MP calls for more transparency about B.C. Interior coronavirus cases

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He added that the students were supplied disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizers before they left. Students will receive a voucher for a future trip from EF Tours.

Last Thursday, all other Okanagan school districts cancelled upcoming international school trips that were planned for March break, due to the spread of COVID-19 and related restrictions on travel and movement.

The Vernon School District was the only Okanagan district to say that three planned spring break trips to Europe were still going ahead, though a special meeting was held on Thursday night, and trips to England, Scotland and London were cancelled.