A number of students at two Midcoast high schools rode a recent roller coaster of elation, uncertainty and disappointment, waiting for airlines to greenlight flights across the Atlantic following the eruption of volcano Eyjafjallajokull. But, one way or another, they are going, and if not this week, then in June.

Such is the word as of Monday afternoon from Explorica, the privately-owned travel company that specializes in educational trips abroad. Medomak Valley and Camden Hills Regional high schools are their clients and had arranged respective trips to the British Isles and France this spring vacation, only to experience what seasoned travelers know well, that even the best laid plans get disrupted. This time it was the volcanic ash that paralyzed plans.

“It’s a weather issue, not an act of God,” said Marc Mann, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Explorica, characterizing the volcanic effects from the perspective of the insurance industry.

That statement provides a degree of comfort to more than 80-plus percent of the travelers and parents of travelers, who budgeted money over the past year so students could visit the continent, and who bought insurance to protect the investment. Acts of God are not covered; weather issues are, and that’s what claim forms address.

“We are making sure to do whatever we can do to get these trips going,” said Mann, who has been huddled in meetings for the last several days sorting out the fate of 34 groups, two of which are in the Midcoast.

“Every day, there’s more cancellations coming,” he said. “Every day, there’s a whole new set of groups to manage. We have large groups and we have small groups and to us it’s all the same: it’s our job to make sure we get these trips going.”

With 140 employees, the privately-owned, U.S.-based Explorica runs tours in locations around the world. The company is anticipating some “sunk costs,” said Mann, “across flight and land operations, and sales operations. At the end of the day, there will be some costs to Explorica.”

For the record, this reporter is a parent of a Camden Hills French class student and therefore has a strong pecuniary interest in what happens next to that approximately $2,800 worth of travel money that was to be spent touring Paris and Provence.

For those students who did not purchase trip insurance with TripMate, all is not lost, if they can get on board the plane for the rescheduled trips, according to Explorica’s Mann.

For Donald Mann’s (no relation to Explorica’s Mann) French students at Camden Hills, the volcano in Iceland dashed their hopes for springtime in Paris, but the prospect of June lingers. For students at Medomak Valley High School going with teacher Audrey Ennamorati to England and Scotland, that Mysteries and Muggles trip is to begin on April 21 with a flight to Edinburgh, five days behind schedule. Those students got the nod from teachers at Medomak Valley that several extra days of missed classes would not derail academic success. Whether or not they get on the plane on Wednesday ultimately depends again on the direction of drifting ash.

As for the eight students traveling with Camden Hills Spanish teacher Jill Cote to Spain, no worries. They are long gone, having a great time in Madrid, ash cloud or no ash cloud. They were last spotted at Logan International Airport, strategically situating themselves several hours in advance at the front of the Iberia ticket counter to ensure their spots on a fully-booked plane.

How Mother Nature dealt such a hand to airlines, and how airlines subsequently coped is a massive and novel headache for travel companies and travelers, a shutdown of airspace likened only to Sept. 11, 2001. But travelers have been circumspect, and if there is a point on which everyone agrees, it rests on a collective reluctance to fly through high-altitude ash cloud laden with enough silica and debris to kill jet engines in mid-flight. No one wanted to fly through the ash, and parents did not want their children on any such flights.

“We don’t want an airplane to drop thousands of feet and then the engines resume again,” said Mann. “No passenger wants to go through that. The airlines are doing their best to be safe and cautious.”

One Medomak student, Morganne Price-Prevot, is taking it all in stride, hoping for a phone call from her teacher that the trip will actually get under way on Wednesday, albeit five days after scheduled departure.

“Hopefully by Wednesday, they’ll let the planes go,” said the senior, who is spending the first half of her extended vacation digging posts for new sheep fencing with her mother.

For the Camden Hills French class students, they can put away their disappointment and look forward to a mid-June France trip, according Marc Mann.

As Eyjafjallajokull erupted and spewed, and airports in England and across northern Europe shut down like dominoes, so did Charles de Gaulle airport in France, the day before the Camden Hills students were to fly out. On Thursday evening, the night before the Camden Hills group was to depart for Logan, Mann received the first call from the Boston-based travel agency Explorica: “Don’t go to Boston, she told me,” said Mann.

Confusion ensued, with students talking on Facebook, themselves going onto Air France’s Web site for news of Flight 337, and noting the flight was still scheduled. That evening, computers continued to generate their pre-programmed updates to travelers as if volcanoes never existed, while airlines tried to figure out what to do. Travel companies, travelers and school groups were at the end of the communication pipeline.

“They didn’t know a whole lot, and who really did?” said Donald Mann, on Sunday.

That uncertainty led Mann to tell the students to take their bags to school Friday morning, just in case.

“On Friday morning, I was bombarded with questions,” said Mann. “At 9 a.m., with all the group in the room, I called Explorica. Imagine a whole table of kids watching me talk on the phone. When I told them we were going, there was a big whoop and holler throughout the school, because everyone was listening for news about the French trip. Within 15 minutes we were on the bus.”

Settling into their seats, the four Camden Hills staff — Mann, John Fitzgerald (“It is always good to have a math teacher on a trip,” he said of his friend), English teacher Cindy Allen and counselor Judy Ottman — “and it’s really important to have female teachers with you on the trip,” he added.

“We were feeling pretty smug at about that point, that we had made this decision,” he said. “Then a girl came up from the back of the bus. She had gotten a call from Jill Cote, who was at Logan, asking what our flight number was. 337. It’s canceled.”

By that time, the bus was in York, and pulled over to the side of the road.

“I had to go to the back of the bus,” said Mann, every teacher’s dread when delivering bad news. “They thought I was kidding [Mann had already played a joke on students earlier that day, and students were on to his method acting]. At that point, we were in York. What do we do? Stay at a hotel? Turn around? Air France is not flexible in rebooking.”

After consulting with the school principal, the busload of travelers turned around, but with the thread of hope that June was a possibility.

“The bus rolled along, and the kids got back to being happy and goofy,” said Mann.

The plan, according to Mann, is to take the 13 seniors and 11 juniors to France the week following graduation, which is the week prior to the junior class trip to Washington, D.C.

“We take them to France, and they turn around and go to Washington,” he said. The same adults will go with them. “It’s a great team and it’s our intent to make this trip happen.”

As for Paris in June, “It is beautiful and then the Mediterranean is a lovely blue,” he said. “Apr├Ęs la pluie le beau temps — Every cloud has a silver lining — after the rain, the nice weather.”