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Worried parents withdraw children from overseas school trips

Carrie Chan

The bombings have prompted several parents to withdraw their children from school trips due to leave Hong Kong this weekend.

Senior students from the German Swiss International School (GSIS) are leaving for 'discovery week' trips to Laos and Kota Kinabalu, among other destinations, at the weekend. So far two children have pulled out of the Laos tour and one has dropped out from Kota Kinabalu.

English Schools Foundation (ESF) schools are on half-term holiday this week but some ESF schools are taking students on study trips in the coming week.

Ida Rushworth, chairwoman of both South Island School's Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and the ESF's joint council of PTAs, said she would be seeking directives from the foundation and schools as soon as staff return from the half-term holiday.

'Parents are very concerned,' she said. 'My son is due to go on an economics and business trip to Subic Bay in the Philippines on Monday. I am in two minds now whether he should go.'

The foundation's head office said it would be up to individual schools to review travel plans. Most ESF secondary schools will be taking students abroad next month and Bali has been on the itinerary for some.

All but one of 20 ESF teachers known to be spending the half-term holiday in Bali have been accounted for. The woman not accounted for is thought to have gone to Thailand instead.

The Hong Kong International School this week took Bali off its list of destinations for overseas trips next March after advice from the US Consulate, Fritz Voeltz, the school's associate principal, said.

Mary Peart, head of the GSIS' secondary international section, wrote to parents this week acknowledging concerns but recommending that discovery weeks go ahead as planned. 'We feel the trip is of great benefit to our students,' she said.

HKIS, meanwhile, still intends to go ahead with trips to other Asian countries, including India and Thailand, as planned. The French International School is taking 16 students to Thailand on Sunday. Mary Lawton, head of its international section, said the school had asked the French Consulate for advice.