The death of a student entails a change in the rules of excursions

The symptoms of a Victorian high school student who died while traveling abroad have been attributed to “homesickness” despite the 15-year-old’s severe physical deterioration.

Blackburn High School student Timothy Fering was urged to continue participating in scheduled activities during which he repeatedly vomited on street trash cans and struggled to cope due to his illness.

He died on June 28, 2019 after an infection in his lungs and blood likely caused his heart to stop.

On Monday, an email to the school community from Principal Joanna Alexander said the ratio of two teachers to 17 students on the trip was in line with 2019 requirements, however the required number of teachers has since been increased.

Ms. Alexandra added that the department was “satisfied” with the fact that the teachers on the trip behaved adequately. She also expressed her condolences to Tim’s family.

“It is important to acknowledge that this tragedy continues to have a profound impact on our entire school community – students, staff and parents,” she said.

The coroner’s report says that Tim was pale and with black bags under his eyes when, the day before he died, he struggled with a walking tour of the Austrian capital Vienna while carrying a vomit bag.

“He was very, very ill but wanted to continue serving,” mother Barbara Fehring told News Corp.

“He had a lot of respect, the way we taught him to respect adults. So if someone in authority told him something, he would never ask.”

The teachers on the trip believed that Tim’s requests to be taken to the hospital were an attempt to avoid participating in the planned activities.

Earlier on a trip to Germany, Tim was taken to a doctor who agreed that his symptoms, including vomiting and severe loss of appetite, could be due to homesickness and constipation.

Ms Fering said that although she had been in touch with Tim and the teachers via text messages and phone calls to discuss his illness, if she had seen him via video link she would have realized the seriousness of the situation.

“These employees took on a group of kids they never taught… who they didn’t really know from the bar of soap,” she said.

“If they knew him, they would know he’s not the kind of kid who makes a fuss.”

Tim was taken back to the doctor in Austria to prepare for his flight home after his parents and teachers agreed that he should not continue the trip.

While waiting for the bill to be paid outside the doctor’s office, Tim collapsed in the hallway.

The teacher came out and found him on the floor with vomit on his clothes and a bloody nose.

Upon finding him, one of the teachers texted the other asking for help, saying, “Tim is not feeling very well… I am on the ground floor next to the doctors. I can’t wake him up.”

Attempts to resuscitate Tim found that he had no heartbeat, after which he was airlifted to the Vienna Center for Social Medicine, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

Despite attempts to restore Tim’s heartbeat, he was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.

The coroner’s report found that the faculty made the wrong call that Tim’s complaints were not serious enough to justify his release from an afternoon walking tour the day before he died.

However, it was also revealed that they followed the medical advice they received and were unable to prevent Tim’s death.

He recommended that the Ministry of Education and Training increase the staff-to-student ratio for international travel, giving teachers more flexibility in dealing with student illness while managing other students.

Originally published as Revision of school excursion rules after the death of a student