Coronavirus cancels French trip
Members of French clubs across the country are likely having the same difficulty Douglas County students are getting refunds after having to cancel trips due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Douglas High School French teacher Danielle Esquivel said Friday that after weeks of arguing with the company offering the June trip she got word they will refund their money except for a cancellation fee.
“It was a step in the right direction, considering participants were going to be charged a lot more in cancellation penalties,” Esquivel said. “While it is a little better, it is still unacceptable and many of our participant families have decided to voice their outrage on social media, filing complaints with the Better Business Bureau and one parent told me she contacted the Massachusett’s AG’s Office.”
Esquivel said Douglas is not alone, with many student groups upset with educational tour companies.
Esquivel has been organizing the trips to France and England since 2012. This is her sixth trip abroad with the same company, American Council for International Studies out of Boston, Mass.
“The really disappointing thing is that this is something we’ve been planning for more than a year,” she said. “It takes me about a year and a half to fully put these trips together.”
While around 20 of Esquivel’s French students and their parents participate in the trip, it’s not sponsored by the school district.
“It’s something I do on my own time during the summer for students and families interested in an educational trip abroad,” she said.
However, since the arrival of the coronavirus, the education has been in how travel companies work.
According to an email Esquivel sent to those signed up for the journey, the company gave them until May 25 to decide whether they were going to proceed. Even if they’d been able to go forward, France is expected to require a 14-day quarantine period until July 24.
The trip was supposed to depart on June 25, but last week Esquivel they decided to cancel and try and get as much of their money back as they can.
“We got caught in the middle of this,” she said. “The company will not cancel trips, because if they cancel the trip, they have to give us our money back.”
In the past, the company has been great to work with and this is the first time in eight years she’s had a problem.
“Our students all around have been so impacted by this, and now there’s one more thing,” she said.
Esquivel is a 1994 Douglas High School graduate and has taught foreign language at the school since 2010.