Mixed feelings surrounding travel and the coronavirus

Restrictions from social interaction, groups, and individuals are forcing families to consider postponing or completely canceling planned excursions.

     For Fifth Former Kethan Srinivasan and his family, the pandemic has created numerous inconveniences.

     “With the circumstances now, I feel quite irritated being unable to leave the country. Usually, the summer is one of the most convenient times for our family to provide necessities for our extended relatives, so not only does this put a strain [on our family], but it also gives us some level of worry,” Srinivasan said.

     Other individuals have mixed feelings concerning the pandemic and its negative effects on their travel plans.

     Fourth Former Patrick Corcoran, whose trip to South Africa with the Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale was postponed to next year, said, “I’m a little sad because some kids won’t be able to travel with us. Otherwise, I’m happy that I’ll eventually go on the trip as I was looking forward to it. I understand why [the postponement] had to happen, and I’d rather be safe than risk our health just to go there.”

     One widespread effect the coronavirus has had on the school community is the disruption of the Global Studies program. This year, spring break activities were canceled and summer plans postponed.

     “It’s really been devastating,” Global Studies Director Mr. Andrew Poolman said. “It’s been really difficult to deal with the students who are not getting the opportunities they signed up for.”

     Despite the disappointment, Mr. Poolman has tried to compensate and work around the difficulties.

     “In the Global Perspectives class, I’ve brought in some guest speakers, some friends, and some family members who live or work abroad or have traveled extensively to share some of their stories.”

     This substitution, however, is not available to all. Other programs such as the Russia trip scheduled for this summer lack the opportunity to provide any form of compensation, leaving much discontentment.

     “It’s a trip I’ve been wanting to do for a couple of years,” upper school history teacher Mr. Jeremy Hart said. “It seemed like it got good traction among the student body, so it’s a bummer that it’s not happening.”

     Still, Mr. Hart understands the situation.

     “I’m also relieved [the trip was canceled]. Russia’s got a lot of coronavirus issues right now, so it’s good that the trip’s postponed. After the coronavirus, we can figure out what this whole world looks like and determine how to move ahead,” Mr. Hart said. 

Mr. Hart sharing his thoughts on the postponed Russia trip – Austin Zhuang ’22

     Some of the students planning to travel with Mr. Hart this summer also saw some good from the canceled trip.

     “I think that this [the pandemic] will make us more health-conscious on our next trips,” Fourth Former Robert Parillo said. “I don’t know much about planning trips, but hopefully some things can be altered to improve cleanliness.”

     With the coronavirus pandemic forcing people to reconsider the importance of travel, Mr. Poolman believes the situation could stimulate something more.

     “Hopefully, this fosters much more international collaboration online and will show people that you don’t necessarily need to get on an airplane to make meaningful connections,” Mr. Poolman said. “While I don’t think it will ever be the same as meeting someone face to face, it is a worthwhile option.”