COVID-19 Leads to School Trip Cancellations

Bridget Lumnah and Meaghan Murray

Last month, many of the Scituate Public Schools’ middle and high school students were devastated at the cancellation of two highly anticipated trips due to the growing dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic. Within the first week of March, both the eighth grade Quebec trip and high school French exchange were officially called off. Being among the most memorable events of taking a foreign language in school, you can imagine the students’ disappointment in finding out that, for the first time, their years of dedication in strengthening their skills wouldn’t be put to use. 

Being former French students ourselves, we remember the excitement over visiting Quebec building up throughout eighth grade. The travel itinerary was packed with fun activities, ranging from trying French cuisine, viewing an interactive historical skit, and dancing at a Sugar Shack restaurant. It was our first big school trip, exploring a different country with some of our best friends–the Quebec trip marked the beginning of independence as we prepared for high school. Seeing these students unable to participate in the same experience, and feeling that sense of freedom, is truly saddening.

Former SPS French teacher Diane Dufault reiterates these feelings, explaining that seeing this year’s middle schoolers missing out on the three-day trip makes her “feel terrible.” Having run the trip herself between the years 2001-2017, she enjoyed seeing her students using the different cultural environment to push their comfort zone and make new friends. Yet, despite the culturally enriching nature of the trip, Dufault understands the severity of the virus and the responsibility in putting the health of the students–and the community–first.

As for the high school exchange trip set for this April, Superintendent Griffin made the decision to cancel when news from Governor Charlie Baker broke, urging all Massachusetts schools to cancel school trips abroad. 

When initially considering how to proceed with the trip, as COVID-19 had just started making its way around Europe, SHS French teacher Jake Kovach said they would have “stayed away from crowded areas, but that’s a shame because they’re crowded for a reason. They’re great to see.” Luckily, the group of seniors planning to attend the expedition around France still have that chance, albeit on their own as tourists, as they were given full vouchers to use by the end of 2020. However, there’s no doubt they were just as disappointed to see this once in a lifetime opportunity to travel to France with fellow classmates taken from them. 

“One of the main reasons I stuck with French was because I’ve always wanted to go to Paris,” said senior Catey Smith, adding that she had already started to form a bond with Mélodie, the French student from her exchange family. Despite this, Smith knows the right call was made, commenting, “Once this is all over, I will be in Paris one day.”