WCI students departed school Friday afternoon, excited to be on March Break, the board’s annual week-long spring break. Atypical to years prior, not all students were excited to be off, despite a two-week extension due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Earlier that morning, the Government of Canada updated their travel advisories, stating that all residents should refrain from all non-essential travel outside of the country until further notice, due to the virus. Prior to this, they had advised against all cruise ship travel and only issued warnings for particular regions with significant outbreak levels such as China, Iran, and Italy.
The new advisories meant that anyone who had been planning on traveling was highly encouraged to postpone or cancel their trips as many other countries have put up border restrictions, and airlines have been canceling flights.
The future of the virus is unforeseeable, and travel bans in place by other countries could change dramatically with little to no warning.
The Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) had canceled all March break trips a couple of weeks prior, but many students had been planning to travel with their families or friends.
Some students were lucky and had traveled earlier in the year or weren’t planning on doing so until summer vacation. Others were not so lucky. Whether it was their own decision or a cancellation entirely out of their control, many students were devastated to find out they’d be staying at home during the now three-week-long March Break.
In a brief interview with FJORD, fifth-year student Matthew C. was curt in saying he was excited to be able to leave Waterloo because he traveled every March Break, and he now had no plans during his time off school. He felt disappointed due to the cancellation of his trip and felt frustrated because everything he had been looking forward to seemed to be getting axed because of COVID-19.
Grade 10 student, Emma L, had been planning to travel to Greece with some friends over the break. She had never been outside of North America before and was very excited to see another part of the world. When she found out Thursday evening that she wouldn’t be traveling anymore, she was disappointed as the trip was going to be one of the highlights of her year. But she also understood why it was canceled and felt relieved as she wouldn’t have to stress about any sickness she may have encountered while abroad. She now plans to pick up some work shifts so she can keep herself occupied over the next few weeks.
Working part-time is a standard and smart plan for these upcoming three weeks, as grade 12 student Mackie H. plans to be a part-time nanny during her time off school. When her trip got canceled, she initially was relived because of “all the crazy things happening right now,” but this relief quickly turned into sadness. Mackie had been looking forward most to a boat tour she would have been taking while on vacation.
Within the Waterloo region, trips are not the only things being canceled or postponed. Elmira’s Maple Syrup Festival, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Largest Single Day Maple Syrup Festival, was set to happen on Sunday, April 4th, and has been canceled for the first time in its 56 years of occurrence.
Drayton Entertainment, Stratford Festival, and Centre in the Square have canceled all performances and rehearsals through May 3rd, May 2nd, and April 5th, respectively. Additionally, all minor hockey and soccer teams have suspended activities.
Consistent with the government’s mandate, the WRDSB and the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) have closed all schools for the two weeks following March Break. The University of Waterloo suspended on-campus courses until March 23rd and will then re-evaluate their future course of action. Wilfred Laurier University and Conestoga College are to be discontinuing all in-person classes as of Monday, March 16th.
To discourage the spread of COVID-19, the public is reminded to continue to wash their hands, avoid touching their faces frequently, and practice social distancing. For more tips to keep safe during this pandemic, see here.
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