Parent unhappy Nanaimo students brought home early from Nice trip

NANAIMO – Students were in France until Monday and continued with cultural activities.

The mother of a student who was in Nice, France, during last week’s deadly attack is expressing displeasure at the Nanaimo school district’s handling of the situation.

Nanaimo students and chaperones were in Nice July 14 during Bastille Day celebrations that saw more than 80 people killed after a man drove a truck into a crowd.

On Friday, the school district announced students and chaperones would be ending their two-week homestay program early.

Tracey White’s daughter, Isabella, was in France, and said she returned to Nanaimo Tuesday afternoon and is doing well, but remains disappointed she’s not still in Europe. While said the school district shouldn’t have ended the trip early.

“For me, my belief is they were instilling fear into the children unnecessarily after already having survived a tragedy,” White said. “On top of it all, the attack happened Thursday. They did actually not come home until Monday and in between the attack and Monday, they were continuing on their day trips, they went to Monaco, they did all sorts of things.”

White added that after the attack, Nice was probably the safest place in the planet and no one else was being evacuated.

She said the travel advisory for France from the Canadian government is not about evacuation. Isabella was bused from France to Milan, Italy, in order to catch a flight home as well, which White said was against her wishes.

Dale Burgos, district spokesman, said the district’s priority was to get students home “safely and quickly.” The district made the final decision, but it was after much consultation with the Ministry of Education, Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response, in addition to RCMP, Safer Schools Together and the teachers’ union.

Because of the heightened security in Spain, it was decided the trip should be called off, said Burgos.

“I understand that the parents are upset that the kids were coming home, but when you have top experts that deal with these types of incidences and that are called on by top-level organizations, you have to take their advice,” Burgos said.