Cancellations, separations: COVID-19 interrupts travel, divides families


Photo credit: Nicki Rosenberg

In hopes of minimizing the spread of the coronavirus, governments across the world have implemented various travel bans. The United States has raised the travel ban to a Level 4: Do Not Travel warning.

Separating families, canceling college tours and keeping students from participating in once-in-a-lifetime opportunities are some ways COVID-19 has impacted the Archer community beyond quarantine.

Due to COVID-19 , the pandemic that is forcing millions to stay inside their homes this spring, travel restrictions are in action for national and international travel. Spring Break for Archer students was scheduled to begin March 27 until April 13. While students were given that time off from distance learning, travel plans to visit friends and family or vacation in a new place were canceled and replaced with social distancing due to government safer-at-home orders

Senior Sivan Ellman was scheduled to attend a trip called March of the Living, which according to their website, allows high school seniors around the world to “travel to Poland and Israel in order to study the history of the Holocaust and to examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance and hate.” Due to travel bans put in place because of COVID-19, the trip was canceled. 

“This was supposed to be an opportunity for Jews across the entire world that are seniors in high school to get together, meet each other and learn about the Holocaust as we traveled throughout Israel and Poland,” Ellman said. “The trip was meant for us to grasp a better understanding of our relationship to both of those places as Jews. For me personally, it was going to be a way to get away from LA and experience something new and different before college.” 

Along with being “upset” about the trip’s cancellation, Ellman and her family also faced financial repercussions. 

“We lost a lot of money because of this,” Ellman said. “At the beginning of March, they had sent out an email regarding the coronavirus that gave people the opportunity to decide not to go on the trip and get a refund if they notified the administration by a certain date. I did not do that because I was like, ‘No, they’re not gonna cancel.’”

Another way students were impacted by the newfound inability to travel was that many juniors who were planning on using spring break to tour colleges around the country were no longer able to do so. Students typically begin filling out college applications the summer before their senior year and many rising seniors, like Francesca Cappello, feel that spring break is the “best time to do them.”

“I was really upset to hear that I had to cancel my college tours, but I’m happy to try and stop the spread of disease so we can get everyone healthy faster,” Cappello said. “Hopefully, seniors will be able to have a few days off next year to visit schools in the fall, but I know it will add even more stress to the application process.”

While many take spring break as an opportunity to relax or take a vacation, other students and faculty use the two-week break to visit and connect with family and friends. Fitness coach and human development teacher Danielle LeNoir was scheduled to visit her wife over spring break, who lives in Toronto, Canada. After determining that it would be better for LeNoir’s wife to come to California instead, the United States and Canadian governments decided to shut the border, keeping LeNoir from seeing her wife at all. 

“It was kind of a punch in the gut, I guess you could say. We got blindsided by that,” LeNoir said. “We knew it would be coming at some point, but also the reality of how quickly it came and just, well, we had hope that they weren’t gonna close the border on our continent. So, to us, it didn’t really make sense.”

LeNoir and her wife, while living in different countries, are currently going through the immigration process, but LeNoir expressed her concern about how COVID-19 will impact the immigration process. Since her interview, President Trump froze most immigration for 60 days on April 22.

“We are going through the immigration process right now, so what is also causing a bit of anxiety is not knowing how much that’s going to be held up,” LeNoir said. “We were hoping to be done with the whole process by the end of this year, but I’ve heard that things have been put on hold with immigration services, so now there’s that added layer.” 

LeNoir said canceling her flights has also been complicated.

“What they are offering is for you to reschedule without any changed fees; however, we don’t know when the border is going to open back up, so I can’t reschedule a flight,” LeNoir said. “So it’s either you reschedule or if you try to get a refund. You have to wait about a year to get that money back. When explaining it they used terms that most people don’t understand, but what the gist was it was that it would take about a year for your refund to be processed, which I think is just absolutely ridiculous.”

Although LeNoir and her wife are unable to be together during this time, she offered tools she has been using and feels “we all should use” to remain “sane” and “stable.”

“And just for [me and my wife] to stay sane, what we talk about is now is the time where all of those self-care practices and management tools are used to stabilize us mentally and emotionally,” LeNoir said. “And these aren’t just things that you do when things are good, we practice it so that in times like this it helps us bring back some sense of control, some sense of normalcy, some sense of stability.”