Chinook’s Edge School Division will be allowing for all 2015-2016 schools trips to proceed following a motion passed by the Board at a meeting earlier this month.
None of the trips scheduled for schools throughout the division are heading to France – which is the only European country where there is a higher level of caution indicated.
Chinook’s Edge School Division Superintendent, Kurt Sacher stated in an interview following the meeting how the Board had heard from families who made it clear they had invested money into the 2016 trips that they wouldn’t get back.
“In difficult financial times the board would be uncomfortable with having them cancel their trips and seeing that impact on the families,” said Sacher. “People buy suitcases over Christmas for a trip like that. Without there being any elevated risk in the countries those trips were planned to it was felt they should allow those trips to proceed for this year.”
For the 2016/2017 school year, the Board concluded in their motion that they will be transitioning away from having involvement in international trips. Sacher has been instructed by the Board to help schools transition to community group led foreign trips as there have proven to be four success stories in the division through this model.
In the 2016-2017 school year, all three of the trips that had been pre-approved were travelling France. The Board felt it was early enough to cancel the trips, as there would be no financial implications for families.
He added the Board felt there is an elevated expectation to maintain a safe environment for students and staff and for that reasons the division wants to move away from trips to Europe.
“We have made it clear in that policy that we will support trips to any where in Canada and the United States so long as it aligns with curriculum outcome,” said Sacher. “We believe the vast majority of our needs to connect student to relevant meaningful learning experiences that align with their curriculum, can be accomplished within North America.”
One unfortunate outcome he added was the student trips planned to the Vimy Ridge Centenary Tours in 2017 marking one years since the historic battle.
“I don’t think any school board is comfortable when talking about terrorism,” said Sacher referring to the November 2015 Paris attacks, which caused the elevated travel cautions to France, adding terrorists are known to target large groups of people and events much like those that will take place at Vimy Ridge in 2017. “It’s unfortunate, our world appears to be changing.”
The Board has put in place guidelines to assist community groups to organize future foreign trips.