Frustrations mount for parents awaiting refund for school trips lost to COVID-19
'They're quick to take the money, but when it comes time to give it back, they take their time'
Some school travel groups in Cape Breton that had trips cancelled in March due to COVID-19 are still waiting to get their money back after more than seven weeks.
Students attending Cabot High School in Neils Harbour were scheduled to travel to Berlin, Prague, Kraków and Budapest, among other stops. Emily Burke, a Grade 12 student, was one of those students.
Kim Stockley, Burke's mother, was also supposed to come on the trip with her daughter and nearly 50 other students and chaperones.
Stockley said the group was notified about the cancellation on March 4 and has not received a refund. The trip was booked through EF Educational Tours of Toronto.
"They're quick to take the money, but when it comes time to give it back, they take their time," she said. "It's very frustrating, especially for people who have put a lot of time and effort into it."
Stockley said the group was scheduled to leave on March 12. It was notified that claims would need to be submitted in order to receive a refund.
She agrees with the decision to cancel the trip, but she's disappointed the refund process is taking so long.
"Everything is so uncertain right now, the money would be better back in the hands of the people who paid for the trip that didn't take place," she said.
Refunds are coming, eventually
A spokesperson with the Cape Breton Victoria Regional Centre for Education said in an email statement that a refund will be provided if a family paid directly.
"The records for these funds are located in the schools and we presently have limited access so we are asking for patience as we work through the process during the pandemic," the statement said.
Stockley was also relieved to hear that money raised will be held at the school for use in 2020-21.
"For a Grade 12 student, the fundraised amount will be made available through a bursary program."
The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development says students and families will be reimbursed for funds they raised for school trips and other events cancelled due to COVID-19.
Stockley said she hopes the stresses of this year don't discourage students from travelling with school groups once it is safe to do so.
"I'd hate to see this impact future trips because travel is a wonderful thing," Stockley said. "It's a shame they're not going to get that opportunity; I hope it doesn't impact students in the future."