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Parents in Nova Scotia are learning they won't receive refunds following the cancellation of all student trips to international destinations – a decision made due to coronavirus concerns.

Halifax choir, Soundtrax, is comprised of students from various high schools throughout the city. Thirty-five members were scheduled to go on a cultural trip to Havana, Cuba organized through the school board’s music program – however, their hopes were dashed.  

Amid COVID-19 worries, the trip was cancelled.

“We're all pretty upset about it,” says choir member, Reghan Czech. “We put in a lot of time and kind of just became a really big family.”

“I understand that they had to what they had to do, and there was a risk involved,” says choir member Mason Crowber.

Their parents share the sentiment; however, they have concerns the money paid for the trip won’t be refunded. Costing $2,500 per student, many students saved for the voyage themselves and even fundraised to cover trip expenses.

“We've got a portion of the group that actually bought insurance,” says parent, Darren Czech. “And there are those unfortunate folks who didn't purchase insurance.”

The tour company, Canada-Cuba Sports and Cultural Festivals, informed parents it would not be giving refunds. In a letter, the company said those who bought the recommended travel insurance through Manulife would have to try to get a refund in a claim.

“We've put our claim in, the claim has not been rejected,” says Darren Czech, “But we've been told that due to the clause, that we would not be insured as well.”

That clause in the policy states trip cancellation would be covered if there was an identified threat. However, Cuba isn't on the federal government's list of travel advisories – therefore, it may not qualify.

“I'm kind of shocked that the insurance company would not respect a decision by the province at the advice of the chief medical officer,” says parent Sarah Devanney.

In a statement released on Saturday, a spokesperson with the Halifax Regional Centre for Education says:

“We encourage families to work with their school trip organizer, travel company and insurance provider(s) to explore available options….we have reached out to travel companies to encourage them to support families through this process.”

Parents are still trying to cope with dashed hopes of the costly trip that won’t happen.

“As parents, obviously, we were devastated to have the trip cancelled,” says Devanney. “I think it broke all of our hearts.”

 Meanwhile, they hope they will receive assistance in finding some consolation for their loss.