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Geneva High School teachers, administrators face 'tormenting' travel decision amid coronavirus concerns

The French and Spanish language students are scheduled to depart Cleveland on March 22.

GENEVA, Ohio — With concerns over COVID-19 (coronavirus), teachers and administrators at Geneva High School are faced with a tough decision on whether to proceed as planned with a trip to France and Spain.

The forty-two French and Spanish language students as well as six chaperones are scheduled to depart Cleveland on March 22.

“This whole thing about the coronavirus has really made us nervous because our number one priority is the students and their health and safety and they’re welfare,” explains Spanish Teacher Marie Best.  “They’re so many unknowns because this is so new.”

The trip was booked through EF Educational Tours and Best says they were recently given several options.  They could postpone the trip until summer, go in 2021 or students can receive a travel voucher.  School leaders say insurance was purchased but this situation is not covered.

“They never gave us the opportunity to cancel it and receive a refund so that’s not an option that’s even on the table,” she says.  “If we do go what is that going to look like if we get quarantined or if students get sick, if we go in the summer is it going to be worse, is it going to be something that it just happened and it’s over with.”

An EF Educational Tours Spokesperson sent a statement to 3 News:

"The health and safety of our travelers and staff has been our top priority for more than 55 years. We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation, are in constant communication with our offices around the world, and are actively following the guidance of all relevant health authorities. 

"We are also working with our groups, their schools, and individual families to provide flexible options for tours that have already been booked. We have extended our Peace of Mind program to all tours scheduled for 2020, to ensure that everyone feels safe as they embark on, modify, or postpone their educational experience. Our Peace of Mind program allows groups to change their itinerary, destination, or departure date – or take a transferable voucher – which can be used for any tours in the EF family of programs or at EF’s International Language Campuses.

"Typically, the Peace of Mind program is only offered to tours modified at least 45 days prior to departure, but given the current situation, we are allowing flexible rebooking without penalty for any 2020 tour right up until the day of departure. Groups have until March 16th if they would like to exercise one of these flexible options. 

"For additional information, please read our FAQ to parents and teachers here."

Geneva High School Senior Alaina Horton says she and her mother have been saving to pay for the trip, which teachers say is around $3600 per person.

Not going would be a huge blow.

“I would be devastated to put it bluntly, we’ve all been looking forward to [this for] so long and we all put so much heart and effort into it and we’ve been looking forward to it for a year and if it got cancelled it would be the biggest bummer ever,” she says.

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