Good morning all. I received the following email yesterday evening. Having worked very closely with The School Tour Company over the last three weeks I am deeply appreciative of their efforts on our behalf, all of which have been done with no revenue coming in to the company and employees facing job loss. Please be aware that they pay non-refundable deposits to suppliers and particularly the transport company and the accommodation were not willing to break their contractual agreements as they had zero chance of securing replacement bookings considering the current status in Italy
I hope that you and your families all stay safe in the coming weeks
Sent: 12 March 2020 17:37
To: Colm Dooley <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hi again Colm,
As discussed, we have been able to obtain a refund from the airline for the full fare including taxes and charges. Together with the payments that we have been able to recoup from our suppliers we will now be able to offer a refund of 430 euro
We will transfer this to your account as soon as possible.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Now that flights to Italy have been cancelled the presumption is we will now get the flight prices back as well. The tour company are working with Ryanair on this for thousands of affected flights. I have asked them to hold off processing our original refund until they get confirmation of the entire amount. I expect an update on that today. Needless to say as soon as I know, you will know.
The Chairperson of the Board of Management has now considered the following
- • The previously published letter from the School Tour Company
- • Underlying medical issues with staff and students
- • Extended family concerns of staff\students
- • Threat of public attractions being closed
- • Potential for being quarantined in Italy
- • Potential cost implication of quarantine.
- • Parental survey response
- • Insurance status
- • Current advice from HSE
- • Current advice from Department of Foreign Affairs
Having considered all of this data the Board of Management agree with the majority of parents that the trip should be cancelled. Many have indicated that they will not travel anyway regardless of the BOM decision.
I have spoken to the School Tour Company this morning and they have negotiated a 253 euro refund for all parties. This is despite the airlines and the accommodation refusing to give back any money. The insurance company are speaking to tours going to northern Italy at the moment but are making no guarantees, despite the restricted travel decision by the Italian government.
In order to expedite the refund to all parties we as a school have agreed to accept the total refund and then issue individual payments to parents. The School Tour Company have over six thousand students due to travel to Italy alone so we could anticipate issues with you being able to deal with this individually. I will notify you as soon as they issue the money to us.
All of us at Our Lady’s Grove are genuinely disappointed for the girls about this situation. In the interests for our school and its extended community this seems like the only sensible decision.
Good morning. further to the information I have posted twice this week, we have now received a letter from the School Tour Company. In this letter they offer a partial refund if the booking is cancelled by Monday the 9th March. Please read the letter below carefully.
I have sent a link to a short survey, to all listed phones, which the Board of Management intends to use to inform their decision on this tour. It may not be possible to achieve unanimous agreement on this decision. The Board will be influenced by the numerical majority from the survey response of parents and guardians.
The Board of Management retain their right to cancel the tour should information available suggest that there is a real and present threat to the health and safety of students and/or staff.
The partial aspect of the refund will depend on each individual tour and what services they have booked. The School Tour Company are trying to ensure that they do not make any further payments that could actually be recouped by parents.
Due to the pandemic/epidemic clause in the travel insurance it is unlikely that insurance companies are going to pay should the Department of Foreign Affairs raise their security risk.
As I am sure you are acutely aware our trip to Rome is 4 weeks away. We are operating in a potentially dangerous evolving international medical event. Circumstances are changing by the hour and the day. Our basic attitude at Our Lady’s Grove is that health and safety come first. If there is even the suggestion of increased risk to either students or teachers then we will not support travelling.
Commenting on the outbreak in a secondary school in Glasnevin, Dr Holohan, Chief Medical Officer with the Department of Health, said no other schools were affected and there was “no reason” for any other school to close. He also expressed opposition to any further travel restrictions on Italy, over and above those already in place.
The School Tour Company have issued the following statement to all schools:
We have had a number of queries regarding the Coronavirus and at this time, the information we advise to pass to parents is as follows –
The current security status as issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs is “Normal precautions” which is the minimum/normal security status. https://www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/a-z-list-of-countries/italy/
If someone chooses not to travel due to fear or concerns over the virus then this is not insurable as it is classed as ‘disinclination to travel’ and comes under page 9 on the insurance document – curtailment due to the fear of an epidemic or pandemic.
If the security status changes to “Do not travel” from the Department of Foreign Affairs then this will be reviewed by the insurance company but not before then. Each case is looked at on an individual basis and they will aim to be fair and reasonable.
I hope you understand that we have paid most of our suppliers or are committed by contract to pay them in full. Unfortunately, therefore we are not in a position to change our current cancellation policy.
Please also note that due to the large number of students travelling on each tour, we are unable to deal individually with parents/guardians. If they contact us directly, we will refer them back to the school.
At this moment we are adopting a wait and see approach. The Department of Foreign Affairs have now raised their risk level as per the picture above but this still does not take the decision away from the individual. If they go up one more level then the decision is taken out of our hands.
Health and safety will come first but we would also like to ensure that the ladies secure a safe travelling experience, or everyone’s money is refunded, should we be instructed not to travel. If there are changes to these circumstances I will update this page and text you the link.
We are currently planning a meeting, for parents/guardians of all students travelling, on Wednesday 18th March at 16:30. It is really important that an adult representative attends on behalf of each student travelling.