EDMONTON – Twenty field trips planned between December and the end of May 2016 will no longer go ahead for Edmonton students.
Edmonton Catholic Schools announced Monday it’s cancelling all international trips in the wake of recent terrorist attacks.
“Due to recent events in Europe and the United States, our decision is made with our top priority being student safety,” a letter from the district to staff read.
The letter explained the decision was a very difficult one, made by the district administration.
Several factors were considered in making the decision, the letter explained, including “the uncertain world climate that we now live in.”
“Recent media reports advise that there have been 355 mass shootings in 336 days in the United States which confirms that acts of violence can occur anywhere at any time.”
Lori Nagy, spokesperson for Edmonton Catholic Schools, explained the recent mass shooting in San Bernardino really impacted the district.
“For us, I do think San Bernardino was something that did make a difference because it showed that acts of violence can take place at any time, anywhere, when least expected, obviously.”
The administration also took input from principals, teacher supervisors, parents and recommendations from the Alberta School Boards’ Insurance Exchange into consideration.
“With recent events in Paris and California and heightened concerns in other cities, we feel it best to limit our travels to within Canada for the remainder of the school year.”
The district will take another look at the issue of international travel later in the school year.
Last week, Edmonton Public Schools put its international travel plans on hold.
“We need to step back, take a look at everything, and take a close look at travel advisories,” spokesperson Brad Stromberg said.
“For the present and foreseeable future, all international field trips are on hold.”
The move comes the same day the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) announced it would put a moratorium on international trips, cancelling 11 planned events.
Meanwhile, the Calgary Board of Education said Monday a decision on whether to stop international travel for public school students will be made before the winter break. It had announced a pause on international trip planning Nov. 26.
EPSB and Calgary boards are not cancelling any out-of-province student trips within Canada; only international travel will be affected.
“I totally understand that we’re going to have a lot of disappointed parents, children and staff,” Nagy said, “but we had to make the decision based on safety.”
Edmonton Catholic Schools is working with tour operators and individual schools to try to recoup as much money as possible. Nagy said the majority are insured by one company that indicates it will provide refunds, however it will take some time to go through all of the trips.
A hockey trip to Faribault, Minnesota that is organized by parents at St. Francis Xavier High School is going ahead on Wednesday. Nagy said coaches are independent contractors so they will also be going. No staff are going on that trip.
Parents at JH Picard School are also organizing a Dec. 17-22 basketball trip to Hawaii.
The Black Gold Regional Division south of Edmonton will discuss options Wednesday after sending an online survey to parents asking for feedback. The survey asks if the board should suspend all international travel as a result of recent terrorism.
An official said answers have been mixed, but some parents of junior and senior high school students are worried.
With a file from The Canadian Press
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