Lake Travis students stranded abroad, uncertain of return to U.S. amid COVID-19 pandemic


AUSTIN (KXAN) -— A group of Lake Travis High School students stranded in a foreign country over coronavirus concerns is asking for help.

The students went on a five-day mission trip to Roatan, Honduras over spring break with a local non-profit organization called “My Player 2 Player.” The organization works with children teaching them how to play soccer and volleyball.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the globe, the trip turned into more than they signed up for — when travel restrictions and a border shutdown went into effect in Honduras.

The Lake Travis student athletes and their two chaperones, who were supposed to fly home Wednesday, are stuck.

“We’re safe, but we want to come home,” Cavaliers student athlete Kembree Koleber said.

“It’s really nerve wracking, because our families back home are obviously freaking out, and we’re trying to keep them calm, but at the same time, it’s hard having to be stuck in one place in a foreign country with a lot of people,” student Cate Deibel said.

Back in Austin, their families are doing the same, trying to keep the students calm.

James Snodgrass, the parent of a stranded student, has led efforts to contact politicians.

“We’ve been sharing a little bit of the news, not to scare the kids, but just kind of prepare them mentally for what they’re going to be coming back to,” Snodgrass said. “I just knew we needed to move quickly, which is why I reached out to Congressman Williams’ office and literally was on the phone with him at 11:45 on Sunday night. And then, we resumed our calls the next morning, first thing.”

The group’s flight was rescheduled for Monday, but they’re not sure whether that flight will happen. They’ve been told they may not be able to leave until May.

Jennifer Wright, one of the students’ chaperones, is urging people to spread the word by sharing their social media posts — and to contact the U.S. embassy.

“Our biggest push is with United and just our U.S. officials, to make sure that actually happens,” Wright said. “We would rather be in chaos on our own soil with our family and friends.”

And that’s what their loved ones back home are hoping, praying and preparing for.

“What they left and what they’re coming back to are radically different, so they’re going to be in a different kind of quarantine when they get back, for sure,” Snodgrass said.

That group says it has plenty of food and supplies, but one of the students is a type one diabetic and urgently needs to get home.

She was able to get some medicine from a local clinic, but it’s not enough to last very long.

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