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After a hotel in the US accidentally shredded their passports, 42 UK pupils have been left stuck across the pond. The teenagers, who study at Barr Beacon School in Walsall and were due home on Saturday, have stayed an extra four days abroad while emergency documents are sorted.
Headteacher Katie Hibbs has spoken of her pride in the staff "for managing this very challenging situation". A mother has concurred, admitting that while she is surprised at the circumstances, the school's "phenomenal" response has reassured her.
While awaiting emergency documents through the British Embassy the pupils have gone on a spontaneous sight-seeing tour in New York. The group had been staying at the Kancamagus Lodge in Lincoln, New Hampshire.
Mrs Hibbs told the BBC: "Forty-one of the passports were destroyed whilst the group were staying at the hotel in New Hampshire." She added that the group are due home on Wednesday (February 29) with the British Embassy already completing their applications. The hotel has been contacted by Birmingham Live for a response.
An anonymous mother told the BBC the trip was a large event for pupils in Year 8 to 10, and had been forced to be cancelled twice due to the Covid pandemic. She expressed her worry for her teenage daughter after the parents were informed of the passport difficulties last week, and their children's late arrival on British soil.
"It was a horrific shock really," she said. "It's the first time she has been away from family for this long. And what they were doing was really challenging - skiing black runs or blue runs, depending on their experience."
She adds that the pupils have been supported well by teachers on the trip, and communication had been good.
"She was up throughout the night answering our emails and questions, when she should have been sleeping," she said. "The pastoral care, and how they have been looked after has been so reassuring."
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The parents also reserved some praise for head Mrs Hibbs, who quickly planned to make sure every parent filled out any required paperwork within a day. "The way the head teacher has been problem-solving from a distance has been fantastic," she said.
"She has just communicated well with us and was really calm and really clear. She has just been phenomenal.
"The silver lining is that they can have an amazing experience and I said 'just be present and enjoy it'".
Four staff members in New York were now "supporting pupils to explore the city on a dwindling budget" according to Mrs Hibbs, and added that she is looking forward to the group's return.
A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson said: "Our staff are always on hand to support Brits in trouble overseas and we have been in close contact with this school to assist them. We are processing their applications for emergency travel documents so the staff and children can return to the UK as quickly as possible."
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