A Trip Cut Short

A fast-spreading stomach virus meant that the long-anticipated chorus and orchestra trips had to end early.


Kat Klinefelter

Though the chorus and orchestra students were able to get the first half of their Virginia trip in, the second half had to be shortened due to illnesses.

Kat Klinefelter, Staff Writer

As rain pounded the windows of the buses on Thursday, March 31, and a tornado warning sounded, North Allegheny chorus and orchestra students were still in high spirits. For many of the students, this was the first time that they were going on an overnight school-sponsored trip during high school. However, it wouldn’t end as jovially as it started. 

On Friday, April 1, one day after arriving in Virginia Beach and shortly after studying under music professors at Old Dominion University, a small numbers of students started to become sick with a stomach-related illness.  

According to Dr. Jackie Weaver-Agostoni, a family physician who was present on the trip, “A few people on the trip started experiencing some sort of gastrointestinal problem, and we weren’t originally sure if it was food-related or some sort of motion sickness from the activities that we had been doing.”

Even though it was a few students who were sick at the time, many started to become concerned.

“I was kind of scared because I didn’t really know what was happening,” NASH senior Karis Lu said. 

For some, the wave of illness was not new.

“A couple of my friends got sick from throwing up at school, so when someone on the trip started throwing up, I thought it was the same thing, but it’s crazy just how many people got sick.” NAI sophomore Rucha Lovalekar said. 

Some students, like the medical professionals on the trip, believed that the cause must have been related to the trip.

“At first I thought that it was maybe food poisoning or sea sickness,” NASH senior Sarah Sharar said.

On Friday night, as students dined and danced on a cruise ship off the coast of Norfolk, VA, more started to become sick with what the medical professionals on the trip deduced was a stomach virus. By Saturday morning, around 50 people, including students, teachers and chaperones, had contracted the stomach virus. 

Students were originally planning to spend Saturday at Busch Gardens amusement park and then Sunday at the Smithsonian museums in Washington D.C. before returning home.

However, after consulting with district administration, the orchestra and chorus teachers decided that the safest option would be to cut the trip short. Students who were well enough to attend Busch Gardens went to the amusement park on Saturday until 4pm and then traveled back to Pittsburgh. Some students like Saanika Chauk were sick early in the morning but were well enough to attend Busch Gardens during Saturday. 

Other students, such as Lovalekar, weren’t as lucky and had to stay behind.

“I’m honestly glad it was cut short. The cruise was fun, and I am a little sad that we didn’t get to go to D.C.,” Lovalekar said, “but as one of the people who was sick, I don’t think I would have been up for it.”

The students who were sick stayed at the hotel in Virginia Beach and left at 9am on Sunday. 

This outbreak of the stomach flu is not new. According to NBC News, stomach flu cases have been rising as COVID-19 cases decrease. With the recent return to normal public life, the stomach flu virus has reached pre-pandemic levels. For North Allegheny chorus and orchestra students, this means that the first overnight trip and first step back into normalcy for the programs had to come to an untimely end.

“While I’m disappointed we aren’t able to go to D.C., I think that the right decision was made to ensure the safety of the students,” Sharar said.