Concerns over security, global illness outbreak affect field trips
MCPS suspended field trips more than 75 miles from Montgomery County on Mar 19 due to the war in Iraq and the high terrorism alert level. Several Blair field trips may be affected, but outdoor education trips can continue.
The restriction will remain in effect until the war in Iraq ends or the national alert level is lowered from Code Orange, according to Gregory Thornton, MCPS deputy superintendent.
MCPS suspended long-distance field trips because it wants to send children home quickly if an emergency arises, said Thornton. MCPS chose a 75-mile radius because a school bus can travel that distance in about an hour and a half.
Two school-sponsored field trips at Blair—the music department's trip to a music festival in Toronto, Canada, and the tenth-grade Magnet field trip to Wallops Island, Va.—are outside the 75-mile radius.
The music department's field trip to the Music Maestro Please music festival on Apr 11 and 12 has been cancelled because of both the MCPS policy and the sudden outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) disease in the Toronto area, according to chorus director Paul Newport. All of students' money will be returned, with the possible exception of their deposits.
The trip's sponsors had considered declaring the field trip as non-school-sponsored in an attempt to get around the MCPS policy, but the SARS epidemic in Toronto caused them to cancel the trip, which had been planned for months. "SARS was the straw that broke the camel's back," said Newport.
The Magnet Program's Wallops Island field trip, scheduled for Apr 30, had already been approved in December, according to Magnet Coordinator Eileen Steinkraus. Since the suspension, the Magnet has not received any information from MCPS regarding the status of the trip. The sponsors and Blair's administration are working with MCPS to allow the trip to take place as previously scheduled.
MCPS reviews its suspension on field trips every day, so it is uncertain whether MCPS will cancel the Wallops Island trip, said Steinkraus.
A third Blair field trip outside the allowed radius, the Robotics Club's annual trip to a national robotics competition, will continue because it is not sponsored by Blair.
Although field trips to Washington, D.C., are still allowed, MCPS is asking principals to confer with parents, staff, students and their community superintendent before finalizing decisions about the trips.
Han Hu. Han Hu, a senior in Blair's Magnet program, is very excited to serve as Managing News Editor on the Silver Chips staff. Aside from Chips, he is also a member of Blair's mock trial team, where he enjoys delivering cases at the county courthouse before … More »