School group of 85 students and 12 chaperones were very close to attack in Nice, France.
School District announces the trip will be cut short and they will return home.
A beautiful promenade in the stunning coastal city of Nice, France has been forever scarred by this week’s attack and it was there that a large group of high school students from Nanaimo chose as the first leg of their European summer homestay school vacation.
Kelli Etheridge’s daughter Maia was on the promenade when a man drove a truck into a large crowd of people killing dozens.
Maia was able to get a message home to her parents saying she was ok.
“And the more it unfolded on the news and reports it just became clear how big a deal it was” her mother Kelli told CHEK News.
17 year-old Maia is a grade 11 student at Dover Bay Secondary School in Nanaimo.
She was close to the carnage but some of her classmates were even closer.
“At least 200 metres away or so and she heard some shooting and some commotion but didn’t really know what was going on until she got back to her homestay and they filled her in but some of the other kids were much closer to the chaos” said Etheridge.
Some of the other students were even trampled in the large crowds as the frantic people tried to leave the area.
“It’s pretty shattering when you’re a parent and you’re over here and you can’t do anything to help your children so far away” said Etheridge.
She says she is extremely thankful for the help of the chaperones on the trip.
School District officials have made counsellors available to the students in France and late today announced that, based on expert advice and an abundance of caution, made the difficult decision to have its 85 students and 12 chaperones return to Canada.
“Getting our students home safe, and providing counselling support for those in Nice is the #1 priority for the district,” said Superintendent John Blain.
“They have witnessed a horrific event and will need ongoing support from the district.”
Tonight, Premier Christy Clark tweeted “Very happy to hear our students will soon be safely on their way home to Nanaimo”
But a parent of one student on the trip tells CHEK News that they were not consulted prior to the decision being taken.
Meanwhile, the district is working with the Ministry to make the travel arrangements and determining financial support required to bring the students and staff home early.