Students, Parents Furious Over Postponed Trip to China

Students, Parents Furious Over Postponed Trip to China


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John Hollenhorst reporting The mystery illness that started in China is having repurcussions right here in Salt Lake City. Some students and parents at Highland High are furious because their trip to China is in jeopardy. And some fear they'll wind up paying for a trip that will never happen.

The trip to Beijing has been planned for about a year. Highland's jazz band, the wind ensemble and string ensemble, all invited to play in China. But now the mystery disease called SARS has gotten in the way. Last month the Centers for Disease Control issued a travel advisory for all of mainland China.

The Highland musicians were supposed to leave on Thursday. But last week the school board ordered a postponement until June.

Parent Van Lund says there's no guarantee the situation will change by June. He thinks parents should demand to leave Thursday as scheduled.

"The kids were angry," he says. "Many of them were in tears. They had worked so tremendously hard to go on this trip. And then to have a communication from the school board less than ten days before we were supposed to leave, just basically tore their hearts out."

But Jason Olsen of the Salt Lake School District asks, "What happens if you get over there and one or two of your students do become sick? They're quarantined in the country. Who stays with them? How do we insure proper medical care for the students?"

Some parents believe the school board's real motive is that they're worried about inadequate insurance coverage and liability issues, especially if one of the students brings SARS back to Highland High.

The families have put in more than $2,000 per traveler. No one is sure how much of that would be lost if the trip is canceled, or how much more it might cost to go in June.

School officials have scheduled a meeting with parents to try and resolve some of those questions.

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