COVID-19 and School closures – Refund policy and credit
Seven months after the global pandemic first impacted on school residentials, the EA is still advising against school residentials. There is hope that these will resume by April 2021, and whilst there is no clear roadmap in NI, there is a clear commitment in GB to work towards this goal.
The extent of the Covid measures has been much longer lasting and wide ranging than anyone could have envisaged back in March when we first issued our refund policy and in light of the ongoing impacts we are pleased to be able to offer this revised policy.
At Share Discovery Village, we rely on a busy spring season with school residentials as the core of our annual operation. This helps support our charitable aims working with a wide range of vulnerable, disadvantaged, disabled and able-bodied people and those with learning difficulties and other needs to access outdoor education.
Having effectively lost a full 12 month period of trading, financially we are not in a position to provide refunds. As an organisation we are focused on utlilising all available measures to ensure we can reduce costs and retain as many skilled staff as possible and be ready to commence operations as soon as the EA permits schools to resume residentials.
We understand that some schools will not wish to undertake residential activities in 2021 due to the disruption to the academic year and perceived risks of extra-curricular activities. We also believe that a shortened residential season will put pressure on availability which may lead to disappointment for some schools. We are therefore extending our offer of credit until the 31st December 2022.
We understand that some schools are experiencing pressure from parents for refunds. Whilst we sympathise with all individuals experiencing financial impacts related to Covid, our contractual obligation is with the school and not the children or parents. What we intend by extending our promise of credit, is to give schools the confidence to refund parents if they so wish, in the knowledge they can recoup this cost against the credit balance held by Share for either 2021 or 2022. That way we can ensure Share remains viable into the future and parents and schools do not lose out financially at this difficult time.
Thank you for your patience at this difficult time for us all,
Peter McEvoy, CEO of Share Discovery Village.