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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

COVID-19 Outbreak Impacts the Long-Awaited Sophomore Trip

New+York+City+skyline+whilst+the+sun+is+making+its+descent.+%28Britt+Reints%2FFlickr%29
New York City skyline whilst the sun is making its descent. (Britt Reints/Flickr)

Sophomores plan to go to New York City for their trip on May 3. With the recent surge in COVID cases in the Upper School, students have started to question if or how the trip will be executed.

This is not the first time that COVID-19 has impacted the Class of 2024. In the spring of 2020, their eighth grade language trips to Paris, France and Lima, Perú were canceled. Additionally, sophomores usually travel to New Orleans, Louisiana for their 10th grade trip, which has been canceled since March 2020. 

The school has sent a series of emails to students regarding the COVID cases. The first one was sent on Monday, April 25 and stated that there were six cases in 10th grade. Only a couple of hours later, another email was sent, informing students and family that the cases had escalated to nine in the grade. Over the week, the cases slowly jumped to 23 students infected out of the 61 students in 10th grade.

That same day, Grades 9/10 Assistant Principal Allison Ewing wrote to sophomores and their parents regarding the New York City trip. “We are watching the situation carefully and are discussing any potential impacts to the trip,” Ewing said. 

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Though no one truly knows how the virus came to be at WIS, some students question if the spring dance held on Friday, April 22 had anything to do with the spread. “I am frustrated because I don’t know if people knew they had COVID, but if people knew or suspected [it], they should have stayed at home,” sophomore Martina Tognato Guaqueta said.

“They shouldn’t cancel the trip fully,” sophomore Emilio Pineda said. “The people that have COVID should have to stay back [if they test positive].”

Pineda remarked on the school’s lack of clarity in response to the status of the trip. “In regards to the trip, we have been told a lot of nothing,” he said. 

Though a sophomore meeting was held on Tuesday, April 26, many sophomores say that the status of the trip was not mentioned.

Similarly, many sophomores believe that the school has not been very transparent about the COVID outbreak. In response to the first two emails, sophomore Ava Gonzalez stated that the data might have been incorrect.

“A lot more people got COVID [than what the emails state],” Gonzalez said. “I think some of their information is incorrect and there are a lot of unanswered questions.” 

Before the school released their final decision, students had already begun to form an opinion of their own on what they believed should happen. “I think they should test people and let those who aren’t contagious or don’t have COVID go on the trip so it is safe for everyone,” sophomore Klara Young said.

Even students who have tested positive agree that the trip should continue for those with a negative result. 

“I have COVID and the possibility that I might not test negative before the trip… would upset me,” Gonzalez said. “But if that is what they have to do, then it would be fine.” 

On the other hand, students were relieved to hear that both sophomores and juniors would have distance learning on April 28 and 29. They feel this way not only to protect others from getting sick, but also to help those with COVID handle school work. “I think that going on a Zoom is very good and positive that way our learning can still continue,” Pineda said. 

School Nurse Courtenay Begert confirmed that the quarantine period is five days with a negative test on the fifth day. If the student tested positive on Monday, April 25, they could attend the trip as long as they were masked and received a negative test. But if the test came back positive after the five day period, then the student would have to extend their quarantine period to another five days, meaning that many students would miss the trip.

As the trip is non-refundable, many COVID positive students wonder how this factor will play into the school’s decision. “It is about $1,200 per student, so that would be a lot of money that parents would be losing,” Young said.

The grade now has a count of 23 COVID cases, one third of the total 66 cases in the Upper School, according to the WIS website COVID page. The sophomore grade only has 61 students, and the entire Upper School has 264 students, leaving 25% of students with COVID. 

On Thursday, April 28, the school released the final decision. “I am pleased to announce we will be running the trip to NYC next week,” Ewing said. “We have a plan that minimizes disruption for those students eligible to join the trip, while also prioritizing the health of all students and faculty involved.” 

The school’s decision allows all students that test negative before Monday, May 2 to go on the trip. Those who test positive will return to school after their ten day isolation period and join the ninth grade activity week. 

The school finished off the email with the long-awaited mention of refunding parents. “While the expenses associated with the trip are non-refundable, we are looking into the possibility of partial refunds for students ineligible to attend due to COVID positivity,” Ewing said. “We will be back in touch once we have more information.” 

Sophomores are having a positive reaction to the trip’s status, and are looking forward to their anticipated trip, “I am so glad the trip is still on,” Gonzalez said. “We deserve it.

By Andrea Brudniak-Berrocal

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Andrea Brudniak-Berrocal, Print Publications Editor/MS News Adviser

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