Teenager Adelaide Hardy had been planning her overseas school trip for more than a year but it has now been cancelled due to coronavirus fears, with her parents possibly forfeiting thousands of dollars.
- Schools are responsible for organising insurance for overseas trips
- Parents of affected students are being told to contact schools to figure out how much money they can recoup
- Some schools are also cancelling local trips like school camps within Queensland
The Hardy family are one of hundreds across Queensland caught in financial limbo, after the Education Department ordered all overseas school travel be cancelled, indefinitely.
Mother Sally Hardy said she started paying for her 15-year-old daughter’s Year 10 literary tour of the United Kingdom at the beginning of 2019, and is facing the prospect of losing thousands of dollars.
The trip was meant to start at the beginning of April.
“We understand it, but we’re just gutted,” Ms Hardy said.
“I’m pretty sure we won’t see some of the money, because there were things that needed to be paid quite a lot in advance and I imagine they’re not refundable.”
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“At the moment there’s no information coming from anywhere — we just have to wait and see.
“We understand why it was cancelled and obviously they want to keep everyone as safe as possible — it’s just sad news for the kids.”
Sally Hardy says she started paying for her 15-year-old daughter’s UK trip at the beginning of 2019. (ABC News: Stephen Cavenagh)
Schools are responsible for organising insurance for overseas trips and the costs can reach up to $10,000 per student, meaning refunds would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
The Education Department has not been able to say how many excursions would be cancelled, or how much money parents could lose.
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But Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace said support would be offered to parents to figure out what could be recouped.
“All state schools impacted by the official international travel ban are encouraged to work with their travel agent provider and insurers,” Ms Grace said.
“Parents are encouraged to contact schools directly with any questions they may have and any schools needing further assistance should contact the department’s international area.”
Adelaide said she was “really upset” at missing the trip.
“I was really excited to go and then it was just cancelled, so that was not fun,” she said.
“I’m just devastated but I can see why — even though England and Ireland have not been that big of a hit with the virus.”
The trip for Sally Hardy’s daughter Adelaide was meant to start at the beginning of April. (ABC News: Stephen Cavenagh)
Local trips also cancelled
A number of private and Catholic schools in Queensland have also issued similar directives banning international school travel — for students and teachers.
The ABC has spoken with a number of school principals who were also unsure whether the cancellation would be covered by insurance.
The State Government hinted it might offer financial support if parents were unable to recoup the full amount.
But some schools have also cancelled local trips like school camps to South East Queensland or northern New South Wales.
In an email to parents yesterday, John Paul College, south of Brisbane, said it had postponed its three-day Year 11 camp at north Noosa, which was booked for next week.
“Advice from different government agencies and the potential threat of exposure to the coronavirus mean that we need to postpone the Year 11 camp until later in the year,” head of secondary school Allan Dennis wrote.
“We do this in the best interest of our students, their families and our community.”
A number of school principals are unsure whether cancellations will be covered by insurance. (ABC News: Stephen Cavenagh)
School closures being considered
Schools have also been planning for shutdowns and closures to stop the virus spreading through the student community.
Brisbane biggest school — Kelvin Grove State College — wrote to parents warning of a possible closure.
“If there is a confirmed case at our school, it is likely our school will need to close for a period to allow Queensland Health to assess the situation and to perform contact tracing as required to identify people and students who may have come in contact with the COVID-19 case,” the letter by executive principal Llew Paulger said.
“The Department of Education will then work with our school to conduct any specialised cleaning of our facilities as required to ensure our school is safe for students and staff to return when clearance is given.
“A closure is likely to include any on-site services such as outside school hours care (OSHC) and other facility hirers.”
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