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School District Debates Field Trips in Wake of Coronavirus

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School districts across the state are trying to figure out if it's a good idea to let students go on field trips domestically and internationally.

"If it were my child or grandchild, they would be going nowhere," said New Haven Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Iline Tracey.

Blunt words from Tracey at a Board of Education special meeting regarding school trips in the wake of the spreading coronavirus.

But not everyone feels the same. BOE Vice President Matthew Wilcox spoke about a school trip planned to Bermuda.

"My kid is actually scheduled to go on that trip, and I have no hesitation at this time," said Wilcox.

The board previously approved several local and international trips but with the virus spreading, it's all being reconsidered.

"It's really up to the discretion of the parent if they want to send their student. Every city across Connecticut is handling this differently," said New Haven Health Department Director Maritza Bond. "If they decide they are going to travel, we can provide recommendations of prevention and being aware of their surroundings."

On Monday members approved trips to Vermont and Ivoryton and plan to discuss the status of other domestic trips as they get closer.

There are also several international visits planned and canceling could cost families hundreds of dollars. But if it's decided to cancel within 30 days of the trip, the cost will be even higher.

"We have to make those decisions based on facts and not on fear and innuendo," said BOE member Darnell Goldson. "I like to hear what the parents for each of these trips have to say about the trips. I like to support their position."

"I can't support the trips," said BOE Secretary Dr. Edward Joyner. "I think if you sound an alarm when there is an alarm then you're not an alarmist."

Some board members pushed for canceling all trips while others thought that would be far too extreme. Officials plan to send out a survey to impacted families this week to get their opinions, and the local health department director says the CDC's travel advisories should be used for guidance as well.

The BOE also granted the executive committee, made up of the president, vice presidents, and secretary of the BOE, to be able to cancel school trips between board meetings. The thought was that they could act much more quickly because it would take time to schedule a BOE meeting with all members. The next BOE meeting is set for Monday.

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