Trip and Volunteer Protocols

Vol. 3 No. 6

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Spring is right around the corner. With warmer weather, field trips are likely to start springing up on calendars in an effort to connect theory and practice.

With any off-site trip, you need to follow safety policies to reduce risks. This is a good time to review your school’s policies for faculty and volunteers accompanying students off campus. Start by defining what a field trip is. Some schools consider any event that takes students off-site as a field trip, while others define them as travel greater than 10 miles from campus. Once you have determined your school’s definition, the following guidelines may help you polish your school’s protocols.

Before and during school trips,* always:

  • Train your volunteers as to their duties and rights.
  • Require trip-specific waivers (permission slips) from parents. Children under 18 years of age need a signed permission slip from their legal guardian by law before participating in off-site trips.
  • If using volunteers to drive students, use a pre-approval form—know who is driving and what types of vehicles are being used.
  • Obtain proof of a current license and personal insurance, and do a MVR check on any drivers.
  • Do a background check on any volunteer adult.
  • Map out a trip route for all to use and use a “caravan” approach (all vehicles using same route) should any one vehicle experience difficulties.
  • Do not allow individuals to deviate from the route.
  • Have faculty and staff as chaperones always … not just parents.
  • Consider (where practical) a no “one-on-one” policy (no parent alone with another child).
  • Depending on the locale, keep the student-to-adult ratio to no more than 6:1; fewer with younger children or less safe locations.
  • Carry critical student medical information, e.g, allergy issues (this should be available and in the possession of a specific faculty member—not a parent).
  • Know how to communicate and what to do if an accident occurs.

*Trips abroad require a number of additional steps.

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