The spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) has cancelled the travel plans of some Greater Sudbury students.
China, Northern Italy and Iran, where the disease has hit particularly hard, are currently under Health Canada Level 3 travel health notices due to COVID-19, meaning people are advised to avoid non-essential travel.
Japan is under a Level 2 travel notice because of COVID-19, meaning Health Canada advises to practise special precautions in travelling to that country.
Conseil scolaire catholique Nouvelon has confirmed its board has cancelled five student trips to Europe that were supposed to take place during the March Break.
École Secondaire Catholique Champlain students were supposed to go to France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany, while Collège Notre-Dame students were supposed to go to Italy and Greece and École Secondaire Catholique l'Horizon students were supposed to go to Greece.
Students at the Espanola school École Secondaire Catholique Franco-Ouest were supposed to go to Italy and students at the Sault Ste. Marie school Notre Dame du Sault were supposed to go to Italy and Greece.
However, those trips have been postponed until 2021 to protect students' health due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Italy.
Health Canada said in the travel advisory for Italy that widespread transmission of the disease is being reported in multiple regions of the northern part of the country.
Italy has closed all of its schools and universities due to the outbreak, which as of March 4 had killed 79 people in the country.
“Nobody takes pleasure in cancelling a trip, but the thing is, we're looking at the big picture,” said Conseil scolaire catholique Nouvelon spokesperson Paul de la Riva.
“The spread of the coronavirus seems to be extending itself and hitting more and more centres. There's more and more cases. You don't want to take any chances with people travelling to Europe.
“It's always unfortunate, but you have to look at the well-being of students and staff. I think there was some concern on the part of many parents and staff about the trips also. I think most people were not surprised by this decision.”
Sudbury.com also reached out to the three other local school boards to see if they've made similar decisions to cancel overseas school trips due to COVID-19.
Sudbury Catholic District School Board said in a written statement that a March Break trip to Europe by St. Charles College students has been cancelled.
“Due to the risk of health to our students and staff, the European trip has been cancelled,” said the statement from the board's director of education, Joanne Bénard.
“The board is also looking into all remaining overseas trips and will make decisions that are in the best interests of our students and staff. As new information is presented, we will inform parents and students of decisions impacting overseas trips.”
A written statement from Norm Blaseg, the director of education for the Rainbow District School Board, said due to the increased risk associated with COVID-19, international trips to Europe and Asia have been cancelled.
There were four trips involving Rainbow board students scheduled to depart March 12 and 13.
“The health and safety of students and staff is our first and foremost priority,” the statement said.
“Given that the coronavirus is evolving daily and international travel to Europe and Asia poses an unacceptable risk at this time, staying home is the safest solution.”
Conseil scolaire public du Grand Nord de l'Ontario spokesperson Carole Dubé said that board had no overseas trips planned.
Cambrian College spokesperson Dan Lessard said the college has cancelled several upcoming trips by college staff to recruit international students.
Lessard said staff regularly travel to Asian countries such as China, South Korea and the Philippines, as well as South American countries such as Colombia to promote the college.
“But given what's happening ... we said let's cancel all international travel, and if we need to meet with these folks, well that's what a phone is for,” he said.
Lessard said he's not aware of any upcoming international student trips by Cambrian College students. Student placements are not impacted by COVID-19, as placements are within Canada, he said.
The college has also put out information on preventing the spread of communicable diseases, and is also taking measures such as providing more hand sanitizer stations on campus, Lessard said.
Collège Boréal said in a written statement that it advises students who travel outside of the country to follow federal government health travel notices.
“International travel by staff are treated on a case-by-case basis,” said a written statement from the college.
“As of now, no trips have been cancelled, but none of them are destined to a region at risk of infection. We will update accordingly to protocols given by Health Canada.”
Laurentian University was not able to make anyone available for an interview on this subject as of this article's publication or provide a written statement. However, the university did send us a copy of an email about travel and COVID-19 sent out to students and staff.
The email says that international travel sanctioned by Laurentian by students, staff and faculty is guided by Health Canada travel health notices.
The university said “as a result of increasing dangers presented by COVID-19,” university-sanctioned travel to regions under Level 4 (which means avoid all travel) and Level 3 (meaning avoid non-essential travel) Health Canada travel health notices has been suspended.
It also “further urges students, staff and faculty” visiting regions with a Level 2 Health Canada notice (meaning practise special precautions) “to exercise special precautions, such as receiving additional vaccinations.”
To check out these Health Canada travel health notices, you can visit the ministry's website.