As travel plans resume, some parents will have many questions before they feel comfortable sending their children on trips. Whether it be safety or financial concerns, there are quite a few issues to address as we slowly ease back into the new normal. Educators have enough on their plate as it is, so we suggest being prepared for the questions before they arrive. To do just that, we turned to SYTA’s Carylann Assante, CAE, chief executive director, for guidance. Here are a few top concerns we’ve seen from parents so far.
How can we be sure our students will be safe traveling?
We could never guarantee that nothing would happen while on the road. But what you can say is that you are working with your tour operator to have clear health and safety policies for all aspects of the tour—from motorcoaches to hotels to restaurants.
With relaxed restrictions, will my child be exposed to COVID?
All SYTA supplier partners have health and safety procedures to mitigate contact with COVID-19. Teachers still need to follow protocols and ask students to follow them. While we expect vaccines to reduce risk drastically, everyone involved in the trip will continue to do whatever it takes to be as safe as possible, taking nothing for granted.
Is there a plan if they are exposed?
Tour operators have always had crisis management plans for taking care of students if they become sick while traveling. Teachers and their tour operators will run through the process and make sure they have enough chaperones should one have to stay with the student, and a plan for managing the rest of the group. Teachers will convey what parents should expect if their child becomes ill and how it will be handled.
Another surge could happen, and my trip could be cancelled. What then?
With the help of your operator, make sure you know the refund policies inside and out and communicate that with parents. Most suppliers will have updated their contracts and policies specifically to account for COVID—just watch out for loopholes. While trip cancellation seems unlikely at this point, the world has changed and we need to be prepared for possibilities.
We actually want to travel ASAP—can we make that happen?
Educators may have previously been able to book a last-minute trip and find a motorcoach or hotel ready to take them. As travel resumes today, many motorcoaches are out of service and hotels have been closed. Teachers need to work further in advance with their tour operator and stay in regular contact on numbers of students traveling. Pricing may be challenging to confirm as travel resumes and everyone wants to get on the road again.
Educators are encouraged to be flexible, be more transparent with their tour operator and walk through potential scenarios. We are all committed to working together.
This article originally appeared in Teach & Travel’s May 2021 issue.