Updated 4:10 pm
The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s annual field trip to the Model U.N. conference in New York City has been canceled due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19, known as coronavirus, but a group of students are still determined to go.
The news comes as cases have been reported in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, as the virus, which started in China, spreads worldwide. Coronavirus is a respiratory ailment with symptoms that include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
An email sent to families from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Principal Sara Dingledy apologized to parents and students for the short notice and the disappointing news, but said canceling the trip was a necessary precaution to safeguard the health and well-being of students and chaperones.
“The club advisors and the high school administrative team have been in extensive contact with the superintendent’s office and local physicians about this decision,” Dingledy wrote. “Ultimately, we evaluated the guidance we have received from the Centers for Disease Control [CDC] and the Department of Public Health, and due to the significant risk of exposure to the coronavirus and the international nature of this event, we made the decision not to run this school trip to NYC.”
Dingledy wrote that the school is going to do everything it can to minimize the impact of this decision on families, but said they will not be able to “fully recoup all the money and time spent in preparation.”
Speaking to The Times by phone, MVRHS model U.N. co-president Chesca Quinlan-Potter said students received permission from the school and the Model U.N. conference to make the trip with parent chaperones. The trip will be outside of the school’s purview.
While she didn’t have an exact number yet, Chesca said many of the students are still planning on going. Students leave on Wednesday and return Saturday.
The conference sent an email to model U.N. groups that the conference was still on, but students from Asia and Italy were not allowed to attend.
The Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School Director Pete Steedman told The Times in a phone conversation that Island principals, school nurses, boards of health, and other school officials are meeting to discuss and share information.
The Charter School is also monitoring travel advisories, due to a scheduled trip to Italy in April for some of its students. As of March 3, Italy has been one of the most affected countries, with more than 2,000 confirmed cases of the virus and 52 deaths. The CDC has advised against all nonessential travel to the country.
While the trip hasn’t been canceled, Steedman said, school officials are gathering as much information as they can.
“We don’t want to make a decision without having all the information,” Steedman said. “If we have to cancel the trip, we will make that determination soon.”
Updated with comments from student who still intends to go. -Ed.