COVID-19 Devastates School Travel Plans

Many trips now being cancelled or rescheduled


The Coronavirus has wreaked havoc on more than just everyday school. Hundreds of Fondy students have had trips cancelled or postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic and recent Global Level 4 Travel Advisory issued by the United States State Department. Instead of touring Costa Rica and learning about Munich, students will be stuck at home in quarantine.
The trip to New York has been cancelled, but those to Italy/Switzerland, Germany, France and Costa Rica are all being rescheduled to later dates in 2021.

Will Money Be Reimbursed?

One concern for travellers unable to go on the rescheduled trips is if they will be getting their money back, and if so, how much of it. As of now, the travel company, Explorica, is offering to reimburse students on the Spanish and French trips with all but $800 back for students who did not purchase trip insurance, and all but $600 back for students who did purchase the insurance. The trips are all a couple thousand dollars.
The trip advisors are currently working with the company to try and get all but $399 back for students without insurance, and all but $75 and the cost of the trip insurance itself for the students who purchased the insurance.

Trip to Italy/Switzerland

“Obviously, going to Italy by June seems to be out of the realm of possibility, and who knows how long it will be until it is safe to travel to certain areas,” trip advisor Matthew Halter said. “My best guess is that the trip will be moved to next summer.”
Next June, there is another trip to Europe and a trip to Japan in July, so it will be a tight squeeze. “I know that it’s not exactly ideal,” Halter said. “Whatever the solution ends up being, however, I do know that we will find a way to get to Europe at some point and have the experience everyone is excited for!”

The Spanish Trip

The Spanish Department’s trip to Costa Rica is one of the many trips to be postponed. “We are looking forward to going during Spring Break next year, after the world has had some time to heal from this tumultuous time,” said trip advisor Señora Baltz. Because of the crazy situation, students had the option of giving their spot to another student available to travel in 2021 or using the money to go on a different trip through Explorica, the company that organized the Spanish and French trips.

The French Trip

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the French trip, run by Shellee Schipper, has been canceled. Luckily, Schipper said, “Our trip has been rescheduled for Spring Break 2021.” The seniors were given many options, and they chose to cancel and get a refund. “Our company, Explorica, refunded all, less $800.00 (or $600.00 if the higher travel insurance package was purchased),” said Schipper.
Schipper says the company, Explorica, has been very helpful. “The company kept us up-to-date with ever-changing worldly situations. As soon as they knew information, it was given to us. I have such an enormous respect and appreciation for their families–they were so supportive, understanding and patient–I know this wasn’t easy,” said Schipper.
“Where I have had a difficult time personally is with feeling somewhat responsible for my senior students not being able to travel,” Schipper said. “Of course the world’s situation is not in my control…but it’s a big disappointment. These students have waited so long for this–who knew this is where we’d be?”
“I just hope that they will all get to France one day–when the time is right,” Schipper said. “I would have truly enjoyed accompanying them.”

The German Trip

Like the French Trip, Frau Keck’s German trip will be postponed until next year. Keck hopes to go next year, but it will depend on interest level. “Sadly, one guy, Tyler Sternweis, had already heard from his homestay family, and now won’t get to meet them,” Keck said.
The German trip’s company was Xperitas, and the students are getting a refund, minus $500. If the trip continues for next year, the students will get $450 credit.
The German trip would have begun April 5, ending April 18.

New York Choir Trip

“I went to New York when I was a senior for my choir trip and still remember very specific things/moments/experiences/performances,” choir director Allison Zeitler said. Unlike the language trips, the choir trip has sadly been cancelled and will not be rescheduled, so her students won’t get to have this same experience. Instead of getting to sing at Carnegie Hall with the Choirs of America and watching Aladdin on Broadway, the choir students will have to stay at home as well.
“Communications are still occurring between travelers, the travel company and the travel insurance companies. This is a long process that will take quite a long time to reach definite answers,” Zeitler said. However, the travel company promised that those who purchased travel insurance will be getting a percentage of their money back. As with the language trips, not all of the money will be reimbursed.

Dealing with the Disruption

“It’s more than just the canceling of the trip that’s been a disruption. All the days/weeks leading up to the final word that we were canceled, were very stressful because of the unknown,” Zeitler said. The Coronavirus is a unique situation, and no one really knew what to do. The travel companies didn’t want to have to face cancellation as their only option, seeing as that’s how they make their money. “I think a lot about all the travel companies that handle all of these trips. They now have to contact every vendor involved in every individual trip to negotiate refunds AND they are also dealing with the loss of a sale.”
However, people looking to get out of the house over Spring break can still visit the beautiful state parks of Wisconsin or exercise on the Loop trail. Just because you can’t go to Florida doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the nice weather.