Overnight field trips for 2021-2022 are canceled

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Matt Bagsic

The senior class of 2022 trip to disney has been canceled due to the pandemic. The administration have said it is unsafe.

Mackenzie Adam, Staff Writer

The Westford Academy administration has decided to cancel the senior class of the 2022 Disney trip and the 8th grade Washington DC trip due to the pandemic. This decision was presented during the school committee meeting on November 22nd, 2021.

The administration team explained their concerns about students getting COVID-19 symptoms. They spoke about students having to quarantine out of the state. If a student shows symptoms then tests positive for COVID-19, many other students and staff may have to get tested due to exposure.

“They [students] would be expected to stay in that location and isolate,” assistant superintendent Kerry Cleary said. “Who would be staying with them? Would a parent be expected to fly or would a staff member be expected to stay for 10 or so days beyond this trip?”

Cleary explained that the administration believes it will not be a responsible decision to proceed with these trips.  She said that the students are being put back into the schools in person trying for normalcy, but these trips still do not seem safe.

Dean Bob Ware remarked on how the senior class of 2022 has hosted activities for their classes. He hopes the cancellation will not slow the class down. He said how the classes will still have fun and bring positive experiences until the end of the year.

“We will do some surveying with the students to get a voice on where they want to go. If it’s a beach day or it’s a park day or if it’s a visit to somewhere, we will let them have that choice to decide what they want to do,” Ware said.

Westford Academy’s Principal, Jim Antonelli, said he was expecting students to be vaccinated and masks would be not required. He said overnight trips are not viable for health reasons, due to the COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting people in schools.

“I still think to me the decision was made based on the responsibility of making the trip or taking the trip with potential for kids to be impacted by COVID,” Antonelli said.

Antonelli said that as they work through these decisions questions have come up regarding if these trips are liable at all. There are questions among the administration team about if the Disney trip will come back to Westford Academy.

There are concerns about the social and emotional health of students, as well as students’ social health and liability of their actions.  This is all an administrative concern that is under discussion.

“It is so beyond the COVID piece, the superintendent has to look at the bigger picture,” Antonelli said.”We are one of the only schools that does Disney trips, in Massachusetts.”

Superintendent Dr. Christopher Chew supports this decision but recognizes this is a loss for these classes. He plans to support the schools in creating alternative options during these times. They are going to have meetings to plan these out, there will be updates as the year goes on about these events. The plan is to keep these trips more local and in a safer environment.

“This is a responsible decision, [although] I’m sure it was very difficult,” School Committee member Gloria Miller said. “I can already see that the plan is already in motion regarding alternatives to make this time special for our students.”