Zionsville and Lebanon schools have postponed or canceled field trips because of COVID-19 virus.

At Zionsville, high school Principal Tim East said a trip to Italy for middle school students was postponed until June. It was a tour of art exhibits around the country which the U.S. Department of State has told citizens to reconsider travel.

Two other trips to Spain and France were outright canceled, East said. The trips were scheduled to happen during Zionsville’s spring break, March 27-April 3.

“We have sister school exchanges with those two sites,” East said. “Those [trips] are language immersion and cultural understandings focused in their focus.”

In an annual exchange, students from France and Spain visit here in the fall and Zionsville students travel there in the spring. East said the trips ranged from $1,200 to $1,600, mostly for air travel because the students stay with host families.

East said the school is working with the travel booking website StudentUniverse to get a refund. Both trips had insurance. The Spain trip offered trip insurance as an extra cost to students. However, the France trip had trip insurance built into the cost automatically. East said the policy had a “cancel for any reason” clause, but the school is learning a lot about that phrase.

“We are still working with StudentUniverse to understand exactly what that means,” East said. “There’s potentially some exclusion for pandemic (events) on those policies.”

East said the airlines may credit the students for their travel, but that the school is still working on the issue.

Lebanon Community Schools canceled a trip to New York of students in Charisma show band and choir scheduled for March 18-22. However parents learned there would be no refunds. The trip cost $699 per student and more for chaperones.

LCSC Superintendent Jon Milleman explained in a letter to parents that the trip was canceled out of caution.

“We realize that the costs for the trip are nonrefundable,” the letter reads. “We do not make this decision lightly and understand the sacrifice your families have made to make the trip possible.”

About 50 students and chaperones were to travel by bus to New York to see three Broadway shows. This is an annual trip.

Joy Kaylor is out $1,750 because she planned to chaperone and pay an extra $250 for a seat upgrade for her visually-impaired daughter. Despite the refund policy, Kaylor thinks the money should be refunded.

“We weren’t offered trip insurance,” Kaylor said. “When they said ‘no refund,’ in my mind it was like if my kid got sick or I got sick and we couldn’t go, then yeah, you don’t get a refund. But in a circumstance like this – I guess it just never occurred to me that trip insurance was never purchased as a whole, by the school.”

A copy of the letter sent to parents and guardians of the Charisma students says: “Refunds cannot be made unless there is a replacement named for the canceling member. Items for this trip are prepaid and are not refundable.”

Kaylor said she assumed that trip insurance was purchased in the event of a trip cancellation. She added that many students paid for the trip with their own money from part-time jobs.

Parent George Piper said the reason for the cancellation is fine.

“I guess my thought is the school should be reimbursing parents,” Piper said.

Lebanon Schools spokeswoman Jen Todderud said the school is working on getting refunds from the individual vendors. Most of the trip was arranged by a former staff member with the schools.

Gus Pearcy writes for The Lebanon Reporter. Email him at gus.pearcy@reporter.net.

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