By Per Peterson
Tracy Area High School Spanish students have been grounded.
As a result of the global pandemic known as coronavirus (COVID-19), this year’s trip to Spain has been cancelled by Language & Friendship, the organization the school works with on overseas trips.
“It’s not something that we are happy about — we’re very sad that this has happened,” high school Spanish teacher Pamela Anderson told students and their parents at a meeting about the trip last Thursday.
The deciding factor on the issue was President Donald Trump suspending all travel from Europe to the United States, effective at midnight on March 13 and lasting for at least 30 days. That means the eight TAHS students who have spent years in Spanish class did not board a plane for Spain on Tuesday. What’s more, their families are out roughly $4,300 — at least for the time being. A Language & Friendship employee told the students and parents over a conference call that the group will do everything it can to recoup some of the money lost — money that has already been spent.
Tracy Area Public Schools Supt. Chad Anderson said he met with the kids who were bound for Spain more than a week ago, before coronavirus was declared a pandemic and before Trump’s address to the nation last Wednesday where he placed a ban on any travel to Europe. He and the other parents last week learned that postponing the trip is not an option; Language & Friendship said it’s likely that the only time the trip could be made up would be August, but since all the TAHS students who are bound for Spain are seniors that won’t happen, since they will be preparing to go off to college at that time.
“We really can’t postpone to summer because we don’t know what’s going to develop,” said Jennifer Beattie-Cramer, Language & Friendship director. “Our option for postponement was moving programs to the fall. That sounds like that wouldn’t work for your group, so we would have to move toward cancellation at this time.”
Language & Friendship actually cancelled all of its planned trips and is in the process of looking into how much money families can expect back, if any. Language & Friendship said it made the decision to call off the trip in light of the U.S. State Department’s Global Level 3 Advisory that was issued on March 12.
“This is unprecedented for Language & Friendship, as well as any student travel group,” Anderson said. “They’re all in the same boat, and they’re all trying to figure it out as we go.”
See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.