The Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows School District has cancelled trips to Japan, Europe and New York because of the COVID-19 outbreak. (THE NEWS-files)

Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows school district cancels several Spring Break trips

No safety plan for COVID-19

Several school field trips scheduled for March Break have been cancelled by the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows School District due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Two field trips to Japan, one trip to Italy, one trip to Europe that would have included travel to Lyon, France, Monaco, Nice, Provence and Barcelona, and one trip to New York, have all been cancelled

District superintendent Sylvia Russell sent a letter to families Wednesday morning informing them of the school board’s decision.

READ MORE: No public health risk: Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows school district on COVID-19 fears

In the letter she recognized that a lot of planning go into these trips and that the news of the cancellations would be upsetting to many families but senior staff took it all into consideration when making “this difficult decision”.

The letter said that whenever there is a field trip the school district recognizes that there are always risks associated, especially with international travel.

But, Russell said in the letter, there are “many unknowns associated with this global health emergency”, and staff were unable to complete a full risk assessment or detailed safety plan for any of the trips.

READ MORE: ‘Very concerning’: Travellers from Iran asked to self-isolate as COVID-19 cases increase

“Some of the scenarios the school district had to consider included the possible infection and/or quarantine of students/staff while out of country, as well as the provision of adequate supervision for all other students on the trip in such a scenario,” she said.

“While individual families can assume higher levels of risk, as a school district we cannot expose our students and staff to high levels of uncertainty that cannot be reasonably mitigated with a safety plan,” added Russell.

As per school district procedure there is travel insurance on all level two field trips which includes a full cancellation policy, noted Russell, and that each school will be following up regarding the reimbursement process to those affected in the coming days.

Additional resources about COVID-19 were also posted to the school district website including frequently asked questions for children and students and a document on COVID-19 guidelines for B.C. schools.

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