Coronavirus (COVID-19) travel advice
31 Jul 2020 08:49 by Nigel English
School trips and coronavirus - what next?
The government has lifted quarantine and travel restrictions to certain destinations, but there is still some uncertainty and questions from school staff, parents and pupils regarding the status of their upcoming school trip.
This guide explains the current travel advice and summarises the options for school groups with an upcoming booking. The information below is based on advice from a broad range of experts, in particular the School Travel Forum, ABTA, DfE and the Association of British Insurers.
Parents please note that we are in contact with all the groups due to depart in the autumn term and so please talk directly to the school if you are concerned about your child's specific trip.
Foreign Office travel advice
As a tour provider we take our lead from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the government authority on safety, security and entry requirements for British people travelling overseas.
On 4 July 2020, the FCO updated its global advisory against ‘all but essential’ travel, exempting destinations that no longer pose an unacceptably high risk for British travellers.
This advice is being kept under constant review and you can check if your school trip destination is on the FCO's list of exemptions by clicking on this link.
Trips impacted by the FCO's essential travel ban
If, when your trip is due to depart, the FCO advises against travel to your destination, then we would work with you to postpone the trip to a later date or find you a suitable alternative. If that proves impossible, we will cancel your trip and your group will be eligible for a refund.
We are in regular contact with all schools with trips booked for the autumn term to keep them updated on the latest travel advice..
Trips to destinations excluded from the FCO travel restrictions
If your booking destination is exempted from the FCO travel advice, then your group will need to keep up with their payments so that we can pass on final balances due to our suppliers. If groups are reluctant to do this for any reason, we are offering schools with trips planned in the autumn term, the chance to transfer their booking to 2021. Not only does this remove any uncertainty about the upcoming trip, but also means that parents need pay nothing more until next year.
Alternatively, you could consider cancelling your trip, but this option hinges on your school's insurance because your group will incur cancellations charges as per our booking conditions. We’ve provided more information about how to claim for lost deposits in the insurance section below.
Plans to reopen our centres
We are busy introducing measures to reopen our centres to school groups once travel restrictions are lifted. The safety of our school groups and staff is our utmost priority and we will restrict the number of groups we accommodate at each centres. This means that availability will be limited in the short term. Read about our plans to make our centres Covid-secure here.
DfE travel advice for educational settings
The latest advice regarding educational trips for children under 18 is contained in the DfE's guidance for full schools opening.
The DfE has also published general travel advice for all educational settings in May 2020.
Further travel and insurance information
FCO travel advice relating to coronavirus.
ABTA offers advice for customers looking to cancel a trip due to coronavirus on their website:
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has produced information on travel insurance and school insurance implications following the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. If you have any further questions about your cover or would like further reassurance, you should contact your travel insurance provider.
Our full terms and conditions can be found on: https://www.voyagerschooltravel.com/about-us/school-tour-booking-terms-and-conditions/
Contacting your insurer
The Outdoor Advisors Panel (OEAP) and The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC) has been working to help schools claim against their school insurance policy for trips which they are not able to take due to government advice. They issued the following statement which has been signed off by the DfE:
For domestic visits and visits abroad, which have had to be cancelled as a result of government advice, the advice from the DfE is to contact your insurer.
For those schools who have committed to educational visits which can now not go ahead, the government’s advice issued is sufficient and will allow schools to make an insurance claim against their policy. This includes more complex overseas expeditions, where the duration of school closure and the subsequent lack of organisational and preparation time with the students may mean that a future expedition has become unviable for a school to undertake safely even after the school re-opens.
Outdoor Advisors Panel and the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, Joint statement 25 March 2020
English academies and members of the Risk Protection Arrangement (RPA)
The RPA is an alternative to insurance for academies and some state maintained schools in England and specifically included cover for school trip cancellation. The DfE confirmed that members can claim for school trips cancelled due to government advice in the 2019/20 academic year. If you are a member, please see the RPA Claims download at the bottom of this page for information on how to claim.