By Aimee Hancock
Miami Valley Sunday News
PIQUA — Piqua City Schools Superintendent Dwayne Thompson discussed the canceled eighth grade Washington, D.C. trip during the board of education’s regular meeting Thursday.
The trip, which was originally set for the end of May, was unable to continue as planned due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
According to Superintendent Dwayne Thompson, the school initially chose to reschedule the trip rather than immediately cancel it altogether.
“Many parents did not buy the (travel) insurance and as a result of that would have never gotten any money back if we would have canceled at that time, so we rescheduled to Sept. 22 to the 25th,” Thompson said.
The district kept in close contact with the tourist company, K&K Tours out of Celina, Thompson said, and soon learned that the company would not carry out any trips this fall due to continued COVID-19 restrictions and precautions. Again, the district was tasked with the decision to cancel or reschedule the trip a second time.
“Cancelling it, again, worried us because so many people didn’t buy the insurance and we just didn’t want people to lose those funds,” Thompson said. “As a result of talking with (K&K), we learned, however, that they’re struggling to maintain their contracts with all of their vendors.”
Some of these vendors, many of which have been in business for decades, are closing due to loss in revenue, leaving a rescheduled trip even more uncertain.
“(K&K) was afraid that if we tried to wait until the spring, it would not have been a successful effort,” Thompson said. “They also offered to us, if we decided to cancel the trip now, that they would try to refund half of the money even for those parents who did not purchase the insurance. We felt like that was a really good option.”
The trip was officially canceled on Aug. 28 and refund checks will begin to be sent out within the next week, according to Treasurer Jeremie Hittle. Parents can expect around 50 percent of their total payment to be refunded. Those who did purchase the trip insurance, which is provided through a separate company unrelated to K&K Tours, should contact the insurance company regarding any refund they would receive from an insurance payout.
In other business during Thursday’s meeting, the board:
• Heard some brief updates from several school principals in attendance regarding the return to school. Overall, the school year is running smoothly, but with a slight increase in absences at some schools in relation to COVID-19. Specifically, some students may miss school as a precaution based on the monitoring of any potential symptoms. Four students have tested positive for COVID-19 thus far, with proper contact tracing and quarantine periods implemented, as necessary.
• Accepted a list of donations, totaling $260, to the district.
• Approved a list of personnel recommendations, including leaves and hirings.
• Held a first reading of NEOLA Board Policy updates.
The next BOE meeting will be held Thursday, Oct. 22, at 6 p.m., at the high school.