Humanitarian trip to the Caribbean cancelled for Ottawa students over fears of COVID-19
OTTAWA -- Students from two French high schools will miss out on a humanitarian trip to the Dominican Republic over COVID-19 fears.
They join students from other local schools missing out on trips because of the virus.
Léa Roy and Anabelle Price are Grade 12 students at Collège Catholique Mer Bleue.
“It would’ve been the first time over there, first humanitarian trip. It was something I’ve looked forward to for a few years,” Roy said.
For the last 18 months, a group of roughly 20 students and 3 teachers, according to Roy, had been fundraising for a trip to an orphanage.
They raised more than $10,000 and have suitcases filled with supplies.
The 10-day trip—scheduled for over March break—is now up in the air after the Dominican Republic confirmed its first case of COVID-19.
Ottawa's French catholic school board, the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE), issued a letter to students and parents that said all international trips are cancelled until further notice.
Roy’s mother said she wishes the decision was up to them,
“This is an orphanage. This is not people that travel, you know what I mean? They’re children who need their help in continuing a project that was started.”
Meanwhile, a cruise ship carrying 235 Canadians is being held off the coast of California, after an elderly patient who was previously a passenger on the ship died of COVID-19.
The virus also has employers restricting travel for its staff.
Manulife, Home Depot, and even the NHL have said its employees have been barred from all business travel to and from mainland China. Those who wish to travel will be told to stay home for 14 days.
The global outbreak has impacted major airlines. Many of them have suspended or reduced flights due to the virus and falling demand.
Travelers may be able to get a refund, depending on their insurance policy and whether the trip was booked before the outbreak.
“People want a guarantee they will not lose money, but it’s really hard to guarantee that,” said Emile Habib with Sunray Travel.
Manulife is not one of the providers offering refunds. In a statement, the insurance company said, "As of March 5, 2020, Manulife has determined that COVID-19 is now considered a known event and the applicable exclusion will be applied for policies issued on or after this date."
The French language students who are out more than $2,000 are hoping the school board will have a change of heart.
“We just want to draw attention and possibly change their minds,” Price said.
In the letter provided by the students, the CECCE said it is working with the travel agency to potentially reschedule the trip.
For graduating students who are moving on and won’t be able to attend a rescheduled trip, insurance will only refund a fraction of the cost.