Fears over bird flu outbreaks in the region have prompted schools to change or abandon plans for trips over the winter holidays. 'Many people are worried about this so we daren't go so far,' said Chan Wai-kai, principal of Wai Kiu College and chairman of the Direct Subsidy Schools Council. The Christmas break was traditionally seen as an ideal time to organise study trips and exchanges due to the length of the holidays. Mr Chan said he had postponed a planned trip to rural parts of Shaanxi province. Instead, the school would make shorter visits to urban destinations in Guangdong province, where students 'won't see chickens or ducks'. 'There may not be any real danger but as a school we have to take parents' concerns into account,' he said, adding that a number of other DSS schools had cancelled trips for similar reasons. Lawrence Lour Tsang-tsay, principal of Carmel Divine Grace Foundation Secondary School, said he had decided against a five-day to Guizhou province at the end of this month. 'We were planning to take students to see what life is like there, but now we will not be going ahead with the visit,' Mr Lour said. Chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Heads of Secondary Schools, William Yip Kam-yuen, said the association had postponed a planned trip to Shanghai for principals and teachers during the winter break, due in part to bird flu. 'We have decided to delay the trip until Easter,' he said. Although his own school, Yu Chun Keung Memorial College No2, had not arranged any study tours, Mr Yip said a number of pupils had signed up for a trip to Nanjing organised by the Hong Kong Youth Institute. But the response had been less keen than in previous years. 'For whatever reason, parents feel a little worried about bird flu, and so there have not been that many students who have signed up for the trip,' Mr Yip said. However, a spokesperson for Wofoo Social Enterprise, which runs the institute, said there had been keen interest in the tour and others to Beijing and Guangzhou. 'The tours will all go ahead as planned,' said Ivan Tam Chiu-hung, programme development and support services manager for the charity. 'We want to take a positive attitude towards this crisis. We want to show principals and parents that this is a good opportunity to teach students how to face something like this.' International and English Schools Foundation schools' interim weeks involving travel outside Hong Kong, including to Thailand and Vietnam, have been going ahead this month as planned. John Wray, principal of South Island School, said it had recently taken students into the mainland, but had checked with parents first.