Out-of-state field trips under consideration

Oct. 16, 2001, midnight | By Annie Peirce | 19 years, 3 months ago

Local field trips return to normalcy

Montgomery County has asked principals to review carefully all requests for out of state/international field trips although policy regarding local field trips has returned to normal. Decisions regarding individual field trips are being left to the judgment of individual principals.

County superintendent Dr. Teresa Flack sent an email to principals in the Blair, Einstein, and Kennedy Clusters asking for a list of out of state/international trips that schools plan to take this year, on Thursday October 4, 2001 including their destination, form of transportation, and dates of the trip.

Blair administrator Patricia Hurley says the cancellations of trips to New York are due at this point more to emotional rather than safety reasons. Ms. Josey says that her planned trip to Disney World in Florida with Blair's orcestra is under deliberation. "We're not sure if we want to do it this year and we're not sure it would even be approved.”

Josey says other high schools in the county have had their music trips restricted or cancelled by either their administrators or their community superintendents.

Kurt L. Lucas, the band and orchestra director at Blair, plans to take the Blair bands to Orlando, Florida later this year. The trip will be a bus trip as opposed to air travel and a stronger chaperone presence is being considered. Lucus says that financial contingencies are also being put in place if the trip is cancelled due to ”unforseen events.”

Lucas says that he would definately not take the trip if there were any risks invoved, but does not want cowardice to get in the way of education. ”These opportunities are very valuable to our students and it would be a shame to not do them because of an unjustified fear,” he says.

Requests for out-of-state trips should involve carefully developed communication plans for informing parents if travel arrangements suddenly change. The request should also include crisis planning to be reviewed by the principal. Marchick also recommends that any trips to New York in the immediate future be postponed or canceled.

According to Montgomery Blair principal Phillip Gainous, and Hurley, who is the first to look at possible field trips requested by teachers, the screening and choosing of local field trips are back to their original state. However, out of state field trips are being carefully looked at and being considered on a ”case by case basis.”

Since the attacks of September 11 occurred so early in the year, it is unknown whether teachers have called off field trips that they were considering for later in the year.

According to the Washington Post, as of October 4, Fairfax County officials had canceled trips beyond a 250-mile radius until the end of the semester and all overseas or airplane trips for the rest of the year. Calvert County officials have indefinitely banned trips overseas and to urban areas. Howard County has cancelled all field trips to destinations outside Maryland, including museums in the district. The District and Prince George's County have, like Montgomery County, not issued any sweeping decisions though individual principals have already cancelled activities.

Eastern Middle School's annual field trip to New York, originally scheduled for Wednesday October 3, is being rescheduled for sometime in May.

If more attacks on America should occur, Gainous says that Blair will have to revisit the security measures that are already in place and probably prohibit many trips where safety is not ensured. ”One option would be to cancel field trips into high-probability target areas.”

As of the morning of October 7, Gainous said that he felt that there would be no policy changed regarding field trips in the immediate future. However, due to military actions of the United States government against Afghanistan on the seventh and the expectations of military experts of more attacks on American soil, Gainous expects that safety precautions regarding field trips could completely change. He offers the analogy that Blair had believed that it had strong, comprehensive safety precautions until the violence at Columbine, where everyone had had to reevaluate their safety and go ”back to square one.”

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Annie Peirce. Annie Peirce is a senior in the Communications Arts Program and the public relations manager for Silver Chips. She is also an opinions editor for Silver Chips Online. She was born on October 25, 1984, in a hospital somewhere in Prince George's County; but doesn't … More »

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