SCHOOL TOURS TO ITALY & SPAIN

School Tours & Covid
14-January-22

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Ballymakenny College is running school tours to Italy and Spain in 2022 during the Easter holidays.

Transition Years Students will be going to Italy and Second Year Students will be going to Barcelona.

WILL THE TOURS GO AHEAD?

The information we have received so far is that both tours will be going ahead as planned.

It is unlikely that flights will be grounded. The only stage that flights were cancelled was very early on in the pandemic in 2020 and there have been no cancellations since. If the flights were cancelled we would look at rescheduling the tour.

School tours are taking place in February in other Irish schools and we will have more infomation in the coming weeks.

Guidance on travel is changing so our advice is to keep up to date with the travel advice on the DFA website (Dept of Foreign Affairs).

ITALY TOUR 2022

Without this essential documentation, you may be unable to travel.

  • Necessary Covid-19 documentation can include (but is not limited to):
    • Passenger Locator Form
    • Digital Covid Certificate (please be aware there is a wait time, often 2 weeks, before your cert is active)
    • Proof of negative PCR/antigen test

All passenger must complete Passenger Locator Forms before they travel.

COVID PASSES IN ITALY

Due to restrictions/special requirements for non-vaccinated passengers, we would recommend that all passengers be fully vaccinated before travel. We gave this advice to everyone when the trips were advertised.

In relation to Hotel and Bus Transportation current guidelines which are expected to be in place until 31st March at a minimum suggest that the Super Green Pass (certificate attesting to Covid vaccination/recovery from Covid for everyone aged 12 and over) is required for:

  • All means of public transport, such as regional and long-distance trains, buses, metros, coaches, planes and ferries
  • Hotels and guest houses
  • Bars and restaurants, outdoors and indoors
  • Swimming pools, gymsand wellness facilities (outdoors as well)
  • Cultural, social and recreational facilities(outdoors as well)

Please note all items in BOLD on the above list will be essential parts of the trip for all passengers on this school tour.

Specifically, in relation to Entry to Gardaland the current advice is available on their website and advises:
In accordance with the Italian government’s latest decree, as of 10 January all guests aged 12 years or older wishing to access Gardaland Resort (Park, Hotel or Aquarium) must present the SUPER GREEN PASS (certificate attesting to Covid vaccination/recovery from Covid). The certificate must be presented alongside a current and valid identity document.

NB:The current guidance is that if passengers are travelling to Italy without a EU Covid Pass there is currently a 5 day isolation period for those that cannot show valid vaccination cert/ proof of recovery.

BARCELONA TOUR 2022

Due to restrictions/special requirements for non-vaccinated passengers, we would recommend that all passengers be fully vaccinated before travel. We gave this advice to everyone when the trips were advertised.

Without this essential documentation, you may be unable to travel.

  • Necessary Covid-19 documentation can include (but is not limited to):
    • Passenger Locator Form
    • Digital Covid Certificate (please be aware there is a wait time, often 2 weeks, before your cert is active)
    • Proof of negative PCR/antigen test

At present visitors to Spain require a negative PCR or Antigen test before departure.

At present, non-vaccinated passengers would not be permitted to enter some of the attractions or to eat indoors in restaurants. For instance, visitors to Portaventura Park require a Covid Pass to access restaurants on the site.

There may be restrictions in place to other indoor areas that don’t allow entry to those without a Covid Pass.

If a passenger did not hold an EU Covid Pass this would cause massive disruption to the tour and the ability of our staff members to supervise all of our students safely.

RETURNING TO IRELAND FROM ITALY & SPAIN

Currently, passengers with an up to date EU Covid Pass do not require a test before returning to Ireland. Passengers without the EU Covid Pass do require a negative test. Non vaccinated passengers will have to arrange transport to the testing site themselves and at their own expense.

NON VACCINATED STUDENTS

There are a number of practical supervion and logistical issues that present if students on this trip are not vaccinated and do not hold a EU Covid Pass.

It will be very difficult for a staff member to bring non vaccinated students for PCR or antigen tests whilst trying to supervise the rest of the group and in addition they will not have access to the tour bus if it has taken the rest of the group to an activity. Again this raises serious concerns around the supervision of all of the students and the inevitable disruption to the tour.

If a non-vaccinated student tested positive for Covid-19 in Italy or Italy before returning the student would have to isolate in that country at the expense of their parent/guardian. A member of staff would not be in a position to stay in Spain or Italy to isolate with the student. A parent/guardian would have to travel to Spain or Italy to isolate with their child at their expense. This is likely to be significant.

However, please be aware that should an unvaccinated passenger have booked on the trip against advice, that it will be up to the individual passenger together with their parents to make all arrangements and contingency plans for themselves for testing, supervision if excluded from excursions/ dining in restaurant, accommodation and travel and transportation. It simply reveals the practical difficulties of bringing a school group on foreign travel in early 2022.

This is not an opinion piece on whether vaccination is right or wrong. That is a personal medical decision for Parents/Guardians. As a Principal I respect your vaccine decision but that choice should not impact on the practicalities and ability of our staff to manage and supervise students in a foreign country where different guidance/restrictions may apply. We want all staff members and students to enjoy this trip.It is difficult to see how passengers who are not vaccinated and who do hold the EU Covid Pass can be safely supervised and accomodated on this school tour.

Saffron Tours are running the trip to Italy and The School Tour Company are running the trip to Barcelona.

If you wish to cancel your childs place on either tour please contact the respective tour company directly. They are the ones with whom you have made the booking.

Alan Mynes

Principal

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