School residential trips cancelled for current academic year

East Lothian’s schools have written to families to confirm its intention that residential trips due to take place in 2020/21 will no longer go ahead due to the risks associated with Covid-19.

The council has made the difficult decision on public health grounds following extensive work involving its education, health and safety, legal and insurance teams, and taking account of Scottish Government guidance on travel which is in place until the end of 2020.

The key reasons for this decision are:

  • the risks associated with adults and pupils from different households travelling together and sharing facilities
  • evolving transmission rates and local spikes in other countries leading to necessary changes to quarantine rules, often at short notice
  • the financial risks to families and the council from paying for trips many months in advance in an uncertain and rapidly-changing environment.

Schools will now begin the process of refunding deposits to families.

Cabinet member for Education and Children’s Services Councillor Shamin Akhtar said: “I know that this will be very difficult for our children and young people who will have been excited about residential trips, however we strongly believe it is necessary to protect them and our staff. It’s also necessary to protect the finances of everyone involved. Deposits for school trips are often paid many months in advance with instalments then collected throughout the year. The insurance position is challenging and we cannot run the risk that monies paid by families will be lost to them or to the council.

“We have already seen in the past few weeks that the travel environment with Covid-19 can change rapidly and impact upon quarantine arrangements both at home and abroad. With this degree of uncertainty affecting every element of planning, we feel it is better to make this decision now and be clear why it is essential.   

“Our schools work hard to develop residential trips that offer educational and social benefits and I know that they will now look to see how they can find new ways to enhance students’ learning. In the meantime, our school teams, supported by our Education service, will begin refunding families any monies they have already paid.”

The risks associated with day trips are lower therefore these can continue with the necessary assessments and mitigating measures in place.

Published: Thursday, 17th September 2020