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Kenosha Unified School District cancels student trips amid coronavirus concerns, families out thousands of dollars

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KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Parents are upset that EF Explore America is keeping hundreds of dollars for trips they’ve paid that their kids will never take.

They say it’s unfair, especially given the circumstances of the pandemic.

“They’re worth over 6 billion dollars. It’s not like the company is going under here,” said Rob Fleming, the parent of an 8th grader at Mahone Middle School in Kenosha.

His daughter, along with dozens of her classmates, were looking forward to graduation and their trip to Washington D.C.

But due to coronavirus, the Kenosha Unified School District cancelled the trip.

In a statement, they said they’re doing their best to get refunds, but it’s up to the vendor.

The travel company, EF Explore America, is keeping $250-750 dollars from each trip booked.

“They save for 2-3 years just to get this thing in, you know,” said Fleming. “And it’s a big highlight for these kids, and now these parents are out of this money and they don’t have a voice, they don’t have anything.”

“It just seems wrong,” said Stephanie Kiouressis, another parent. “It seems like a big company trying to use a bad situation to their advantage,” she said, meaning a double dip for families like both Rob and Stephanie’s who had a parent tagging along as a chaperone.

“Some of my daughter’s friends are parents who are out of work, and they’re at a point now where getting some refund back would be a huge benefit to them because they’re scraping right now,” said Kiouressis.

They’re hoping the company will reevaluate the situation and do the right thing.

“They didn’t really deliver on anything, and given that we’re all in this together, it seemed like such a money grab to me,” said Fleming. “You’re charging us all this money for what? There’s no accountability here, it’s just hey, this is what we’re going to give you and that’s what you should take. That’s the message I’m getting.”

CBS 58 reached out to EF Explore America, and we did hear back from someone in their communications department.

However, he could not give us a direct answer as to what they’ve spent any money on, or why parents could not get the full refund, and instead referred us to a FAQ page on their website.

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