BROCKWAY — The annual visit from German exchange students had to be put on hold due to the growing concerns of the coronavirus.
Prior to this year, a group of exchange students come to Brockway from Hann. Münden in Germany. Two teachers and their students stay with various host families in Brockway. They attend classes with their hosts at Brockway Area Junior-Senior High School, visit various locations, and fly back to Germany. The trip usual happens in April, but 2020 will be the first exception since Brockway German Language Teacher Eric Stawecki got the program started in 2011.
Brockway Superintendent Jeff Vizza said that the decision to postpone the visit was difficult, but it was necessary in the current climate.
“Obviously, with what’s going on, it’s virtually impossible to go anywhere,” Vizza said. “We want to reschedule it for September or October. It’s such a remarkable opportunity for both the German students and for our students, but unfortunately, with the virus, we don’t want to take the chance.”
The decision is a disappointment for students on both sides of the Atlantic. In December, students in Brockway get a chance to learn about the Germans coming to the town. They communicate and find out about their interests. The German-American Partnership Program (GAPP), as it is called, creates friendships that transcend borders.
The September or October plan is still in the works. With Brockway seniors graduating and some German students leaving their school in Hann. Münden, it will take a little more planning to make sure the visit still happens.
“We have to see what the Germans can do with their schedules and re-booking flights,” Stawecki said.
At press time, Germany has more than 3,000 cases and the United States has 1,629. Germany has not taken the extreme measures as Italy as of yet, but they have banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people.
However, Stawecki is hopeful that the virus will run its course and the German visitors will get their chance to see Brockway.
“Of course, we have to see about graduation and plans during those dates, but we are still working on it,” Stawecki said. “But we still hope to have them.”