CANMORE – Most Lawrence Grassi Middle School students that expected to be getting ready right now for a cancelled trip to Quebec in June will have another opportunity to go on that adventure in 2021.
With 91 families registered for the school trip through Explorica, Canadian Rockies Public Schools superintendent Chris MacPhee said the trip will be rescheduled to next year for students at LGMS.
That includes 20 families that chose not to purchase trip cancellation insurance, for whom MacPhee was able to negotiate the combination of a cash refund and vouchers from the tour company – which has a no-refund policy.
"I can understand the disappointment," MacPhee said. "I believe the best option is ... the trip is going to be offered again next year."
However, students currently in Grade 8 and expected to transfer to high school next year, will not be able to participate in the rescheduled trip according MacPhee.
He said efforts will be made to see their vouchers purchased next year by new students signing up for the trip.
"At this present time, the Grade 9s at the high school level will not be able to participate in that trip [next year]," MacPhee said, adding the issue is around instructional time required in the classroom.
MacPhee said the contract signed with Explorica was sent to CRPS's lawyers and it is "pretty solid" that the company does not have to provide any form of refund at all.
"It is an airtight contract," he said. "They do not need to refund anything and this situation is a challenge for us all."
With the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects the public health crisis has had on domestic and international travel, it is no surprise that the school trip was going to be cancelled.
However, MacPhee said it was not official until his April 29 presentation to the CRPS board of trustees. The official cancellation means those families that purchased insurance can now make a claim through that process.
"There are 71 families that bought insurance and will receive funds back through that process," MacPhee said.
MacPhee said school trip operators should only offer these types of packages with mandatory insurance, because there are numerous variables that can lead to cancellations.
"It is good to know moving forward," he said. "My recommendation would be to never offer this without insurance in place."
Explorica is a Canadian-based travel company that arranges school trips nationally and internationally for 400,000 students annually.