| Leo Belman | firstname.lastname@example.org | March 9, 2020 |
On Sunday, March 15th, ten d.tech students and two chaperones, Academic Coordinator Kathleen Odell and Academic Counselor Molly Robertson, were scheduled to depart for a service trip in Nepal, but problems have come up amidst rising concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, better known as the Coronavirus, leading to the ultimate cancelation of the trip.
While, as of March 9th, Nepal only has a single confirmed case of the Coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), they would have had to fly through Singapore, which currently has 138 cases of the virus. Another related problem is that the Coronavirus is spreading so rapidly, with eight new confirmed cases in Singapore just within a day, for instance. Because of that, there was no certainty that the team would not get locked out of America or quarantined when they got back.
The trip has been in planning for “About a year and a half,” according to senior and co-leader of the d.tech travel program Julia Green, but Green only became aware of the situation recently. She said that “Right now [the trip] is in the hands of the administration, like Dr. Montgomery and Nicole Cerra, and they’ll be making final calls.” Green continued, explaining that a lot depends on the communication between the school and the third party trip coordinators, Rustic Pathways.
Since neither Singapore or Nepal are currently listed as a high enough threat on the CDC to shut down travel or at least strongly caution against it, Rustic Pathways was apparently reluctant to fully refund the trip. d.tech staff members involved, such as Odell and Executive Director Ken Montgomery were worried about the choices that they have. Montgomery said that they had three choices other than just sticking with the current plan. “All of the three choices will cost the students money,” he said, “The choices are refund the trip, and the kids get a 65 percent refund, switch it to the summer, which also costs money, or change the location of the trip.”
After school on Thursday, March 5th, d.tech held a meeting for the parents of students going on the trip to discuss the problem, but came to no conclusive answer.
However, early Monday morning on March 9th, Montgomery sent an email out to everyone involved, informing them that the Nepal service trip has been canceled or at least postponed. His reasoning was that seeing how fast the virus is spreading in Italy illustrates how dangerous international travel to anywhere is right now.
Some students who had been planning to go on the trip were unhappy with the decision, especially since they had been planning it for over a year. Senior Keito Frank said he was mad because “I’m going to go over three thousand dollars in debt if this isn’t postponed […] until May.” As of right now, Rustic Pathways is only refunding 65 percent of the three thousand dollar per person cost, meaning that students will still lose one thousand and fifty dollars if the trip is not postponed.
As for Green, she is feeling “Sad about it, but it seems like it had to be done.” She said that the next steps should be “Trying to find a new time to go,” because “The students worked really hard on it, and they will hopefully get to go in the Spring.”