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This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). (CDC via AP, File)

A group of Winnipeg high school students who were set to travel to China and Italy later this month have had to make a change of plans due to the spread of coronavirus.

Radean Carter, the senior information officer for the Winnipeg School Division, said there are two types of student trips: one that’s specifically sponsored by the school division, which it has authority to cancel, and another which are spring break pleasure trips organized by students and parents.

“We don’t have the authority to cancel them because we’re not sponsors,” said Carter, referring to these pleasure trips.

This year there are five of these unsponsored trips within the Winnipeg School Division, with less than 100 students attending. 

Carter said two of the trips had to be changed, because they were planning on going to Italy and China – two regions the Canadian government has issued travel advisories due to coronavirus. She said they made the changes as soon as the advisories came out.

“One trip from Grant Park was originally planning on going to a part of Italy that the Canadian government has put out an alert for coronavirus so they’re still going to Europe but they’re now going to some other countries a little bit more north of Italy. So it’s not a cancellation it was a change,” she said, noting the group from Kelvin High School that was planning on going to China is now going to western Europe.

“Obviously China was definitely off the plate,” she said.

The other spring break trips in the division are to Costa Rica, western Europe and the Mediterranean. All of the sponsored school division trips are in Canada and the United States.

“It’s only March 3rd, these trips don’t start until March 28th so there is still the possibility that other changes will occur if the virus spreads elsewhere and another alert comes from the government and of course we just encourage the parents and students that are planning those trips, and of course their agents will advise them as well, to be aware in case they have to make additional changes closer to the date of departure,” Carter said.

WHAT OTHER SCHOOL DIVISIONS ARE DOING

CTV News Winnipeg reached out to the River East Transcona, Louis Riel and Pembina Trails School Divisions, who all said they haven’t cancelled any school trips due to COVID-19 concerns.

EF Tours, a tour operator that organizes a number of school trips, posted a statement to its website saying they are monitoring travel updates from the government, which has only recommended against travel to a few places.

“Please rest assured that we will not send groups to destinations that are deemed unsafe by the above government authorities. Also, in certain cases, we will continue to implement measures that extend beyond those recommendations for the safety and support of our travellers,” the statement said.

- With files from CTV’s Danton Unger.