COVID-19 Postpones Guatemala

The Guatemala 2020 service trip is no more, leaving new questions for how to proceed.


Molly Conway

Alumna Molly Conway ’19 and senior Meg Wilkerson hold Guatemalan children while working on building a concrete stove for the family in San Andres Itzapa March 11, 2019. This year’s trip to Guatemala has been postponed due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

Callie Cameron, A&E Editor

The spring break service trip to Guatemala March 13-19 was canceled Monday, March 9 due to an abundance of caution in response to new cases of the coronavirus disease in the United States. 

“I definitely saw the cancellation coming, but I was surprised they waited this late since the week before they had said they were specifically not going to cancel because of the virus,” junior Grace Hill said. “I was most looking forward to forming bonds with the people and the community there since they rely so much on our help.” 

The cancellation email was sent out to the parents of the students three days before the trip during which they were going to install chicken coops, pig pens and other building labor. Despite that Guatemala is a Level 1 watch country and the risk is low, administration responded with prudence, according to Principal Natalie McDonough.

 “My parents were understanding about it, and how Sion just wanted to protect their students from a dangerous situation with the coronavirus,” junior Ruby Wright, “but at the same time my mom was really looking forward to it because she was going to chaperone.”

The refund is frustrating, but my family decided to view it as a donation to the people of Guatemala.”

— Junior Olivia Overlease

If 20 students are available next fall the week of October 11, they can reschedule the trip without them missing a week of school. This allows the students to use their flight credit at that time, minus any airline fees. Since the supplies have been purchased for the trip, they will have to hire for the labor to finish the projects. Families were offered the opportunity for a partial refund of $200 March 12.

 “I probably won’t go in October just because of all the complications my family would run into,” junior Olivia Overleese said. “The refund is frustrating, but my family decided to view it as a donation to the people of Guatemala.”

As the information regarding COVID-19 continues to change at a rapid pace, McDonough has sent an email out to parents and students to prepare for the closing of school and the transition to virtual learning. They will monitor through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and local health agencies as well as city leaders. A decision will be reached by the middle of this week, according to Principal McDonough.

“I was kind of upset because they told us so late and I knew people who had already packed,” junior Olivia Pope said, “but I was also kind of relieved because I was stressing about prom right when we got back, and I hope we can go again.”