Staying Home

The world – and Bishop’s – is not traveling during COVID-19.

Charlie+Johnson+%28%2722%29+arrives+home+from+a+school+year+abroad+cut+short.

Charlie Johnson ('22)

Charlie Johnson (’22) arrives home from a school year abroad cut short.

Abby Beamer, Staff Writer

“I was really looking forward to traveling abroad with a group of my close friends, so obviously I’m disappointed. But I know that the School was acting in the best interests of its teachers and students.” This is what senior Meghan Behr said about Bishop’s canceling all spring break travel programs in response to COVID 19, and specifically, the trip to Bali. The cancellation of travels is sad, but expected, as the Bishop’s community responds to COVID-19 responsibly. 

Bishop’s took the proactive step of cancelling all travel several weeks ago- before the travel ban to Europe was placed by the United States government. Science teacher Mr. Ben Duehr said, “Scientists and medical professionals didn’t know about all the relevant details associated with its spread and its symptoms and the school wanted to ensure it didn’t send students off on international trips where they could potentially encounter this virus or be quarantined following any exposure.” Since the cancelation, the virus has grown in the United States and abroad since the cancellation of school trips, and the School made the right choice in shutting down travel. International travel to and from the US is now at a standstill, and the cancellation of travel for everyone was imminent.

One member of the Bishop’s community who was especially impacted by COVID-19 is Charlie Johnson (‘22). Charlie was completing a year abroad through School Year Abroad in Italy, when she was told to pack up and head back to the U.S. When her school director delivered the devastating news, she said, “It was definitely the saddest moment in my entire life.” Charlie had to stay in quarantine for two weeks in her apartment in La Jolla.

Maddie Cayer (‘22) was planning on going to Italy this spring break on a Bishop’s trip, and said, “It was really sad that Italy was canceled, but it was a good thing that we are not going because the country is in quarantine.” President Trump also placed a travel ban on Europe, effective March 13, for 30 days. Italy is currently suffering from the effects of the virus, and the entire country is on lockdown. The US faces similar circumstances, with California and other states placed on lockdown with shelter in place orders. Even without the school’s early response, all travel would have been canceled.

Whitney Hejmanowski (‘21) planned on attending the Spain trip. The trip had an exchange component to it, which meant that students from a school in Spain stayed with Bishop’s students and the Bishop’s students were supposed to stay with the Spanish students in Spain. However, as Whitney explained, “After spending two weeks with my student who became like a sister to me, we found out that we wouldn’t get to go on half our journey together. I’ve tried to stay in touch with her and promised to try to visit her in the future, but I’m still bummed that I’m missing out on what would have been an incredible opportunity.”

Senior Carina Freundt, who originally planned to go on the Bali trip, said, “I was super bummed to hear that the school trip was canceled because it has been a lifelong dream of mine to visit Bali. The combination of  the welcoming and kind culture, the temple architecture, and the beauty of Bali’s nature, makes it a really appealing place to me. Before I knew that Bishop’s offered a trip there, I started saving money in a ‘Bali Fund,’ so I will continue to do that until I can plan my own trip there!” Currently, more and more cases are being reported in Bali, and the tourism industry is suffering as foreigners cancel their travel plans to the small country. With an economy that relies heavily on tourism, COVID-19 could be catastrophic for many Balians.

Luckily, the future could be brighter by next school year if the spread of the virus is contained. Although it is saddening that the current seniors, like Meghan and Carina, will not be able to travel with Bishop’s, Mr. Duehr explained that, “the School has committed to reimbursing all funds to students that can’t rebook and travel next year.  For the most part, the vendors we used returned the funds to us, but the School has also pledged to cover the funds that we lost due to cancelation so close to the trip date.” Mr. Duehr also said, “We are thinking positively that although it was canceled this year, it is also postponed and will ideally be offered next spring break.”