School District 8 says it is cancelling student trips to Italy due to the coronavirus. Photo: Chris Young/The Canadian Press

Kootenay Lake school district cancels student trips to Italy due to coronavirus

The federal government has advised against travel to Northern Italy

Two student trips to Northern Italy that were set to begin this month have been cancelled by School District 8 because of the global coronavirus outbreak.

Mount Sentinel Senior Secondary and Creston’s Prince Charles Senior Secondary had planned to each send 12 students and teachers on the trip over spring break.

Superintendent Christine Perkins said the decision was made this week to cancel the trips after the federal government issued an advisory against non-essential travel to Northern Italy.

The World Health Organization said Wednesday there are 2,502 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Italy as well as 80 deaths, the most outside China.

“Part of the consideration was could we live with ourselves should there be risk of infection,” said Perkins. “What about plane delays, possible quarantine on either side of the ocean? Either way, that’s a long way for our students to be away from families, and the amount of worry and anxiety would have been insurmountable.”

The trips’ cancellation is pending approval by the board of trustees at Tuesday’s meeting, but Perkins said in this case that approval will be a formality. She added there is still a possibility the trips occur at the end of June, but it will depend on the status of the outbreak.

Travel within North America meanwhile has not been advised against by either Interior Health or the Ministry of Education, which means sports teams for example can continue to visit schools outside the district.

Perkins said extra cleaning is also occurring within district schools, and students are being briefed on proper hygiene.

“All those things are in place and everybody’s doing the best they can. Until the officials tell us that there’s a particular thing to do to stop it, we’re just doing the best we can,” she said.

“We know our student body is not as compromised as the 80-plus crowd, but we do have students who have underlying illnesses. It’s always good practice I think to follow good hygiene. We’ve just upped our education on it.”

Meanwhile, schools re-opened Thursday in Colville, Wash., after a three-day shutdown while a person was tested for COVID-19. Perkins said that has not affected planned visits by students from Colville to Nelson for a two-day Indigenous culture celebration Thursday and Friday in Nelson.

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tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

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