The quarantined Diamond Cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan was part of the outbreak of the coronavirus in that country. Langley school trips to Japan and Italy were cancelled on March 4. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Jae C. Hong

Lower Mainland schools cancel overseas student trips due to coronavirus spread

Langley School District joins others in curtailing overseas travel by students

Four overseas student trips are being cancelled or curtailed by the Langley School District due to concern over the spread of the novel coronavirus in parts of Europe and Asia.

Three trips have been cancelled completely, including:

• Langley Secondary School’s trip to Japan

• Walnut Grove Secondary’s trip to Italy

• Langley Fine Arts’ planned trip to Italy

In addition, the Italian portion of a European trip by Langley Fundamental Middle and Secondary has been cancelled, according to a statement released Wednesday by the school district.

“For all school trips, the district ensures students and staff purchase cancellation insurance and parents are informed at the start that trips can be cancelled at any point,” the statement said.

Other trips might also be cancelled on a case-by-case basis, with ongoing discussions at the school and district level on each trip.

Surrey has also recently cancelled a number of overseas student trips.

A concerned parent at Walnut Grove Secondary had contacted the Langley Advance Times earlier in the week about the Walnut Grove trip to Italy, when it was still scheduled to go ahead. The spring break trip was to have taken 34 students, four teachers, and one parent to Rome, as well as sites in Greece.

Italy has been hit with several thousand cases of the novel coronavirus in recent weeks, largely in the northern part of the country. As of Wednesday, there were more than 3,000 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 illness, and 109 deaths had been reported. Schools and universities in Italy were to be closed until March 15.

Japan had more than 1,000 cases of the coronavirus, most of them from a cruise ship where the virus spread to hundreds of passengers and crew. A dozen people had died in Japan, half from the cruise ship.

“We are continuing to take direction from the Ministry of Education and Fraser Health Authority to ensure the continued safety of students and staff,” said the Langley School District’s statement. “We are also monitoring federal government travel notices for updates on advisories. As with any school trip, it is a family’s choice when deciding whether or not to go on a trip that is scheduled to go ahead.”

READ MORE: PM creates COVID-19 cabinet committee to deal with novel coronavirus

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