Canadian school boards question trips to U.S. as travel ban debate continues

Canadian school trips to U.S. in limbo

Schools across Canada are grappling with the uncertainty of U.S. travel restrictions and how that affects upcoming student trips across the border.

A travel ban instituted by President Donald Trump on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries and Syrian refugees may be on hold as it works its way through the U.S. justice system, but Canadian schools remain concerned with how foreign-born students will be treated at the border.

Jim Cambridge, superintendent of the Sooke School District in British Columbia, said there are a number of trips planned for sports, music and educational purposes in the coming months that are being reconsidered.

While the refugee population among students in the Vancouver Island district is small, Cambridge said the board must make a decision based on safety and also ethical considerations.

“The board is concerned some students may be stopped at the border, and if that’s the case, they want to examine whether or not they’ll support any trips to the States right now,” he said.

The B.C. School Trustees Association is advising them on what student groups can expect at the border based on information from both U.S. and Canadian border agencies, he said.

One of the board’s concerns is fairness to students who may not be allowed to cross the border, he said.  

Even if specific trips may not involve students affected by the ban, Cambridge said the board will have to decide whether to take a stance on the ban anyway, recognizing there are students within the district who are being discriminated against due to new U.S. travel policies.

“That’s what the board needs to wrestle with is the more ethical decision about whether some trips can go and some can’t or whether they all can’t or can,” he said.

The board meets Tuesday to discuss the issue, and Cambridge said some schools have begun looking at Canadian cities as a “Plan B” in the event trips are cancelled.

Sooke trustees have looked to neighbouring school boards and other areas of the country to help inform their decision.

The Greater Essex County School Board in southwestern Ontario decided earlier this month to cancel a handful of trips over concerns of safety and equity.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board sent a letter to parents to confirm whether their children will participate in upcoming trips across the border to determine whether plans should go ahead. 

Students in the Pembina Trails School Division in Winnipeg participate in many international trips, but superintendent Ted Fransen said a recent decision to cancel one, although rushed, was made easily.

The track team at Acadia Junior High School was required to submit a deposit on Jan. 30 to participate in a competition in Minnesota, days after Trump signed his executive order.

Unsure about how policy would affect students on the team, they chose to opt out of the race.

Since the ban has been blocked by the U.S. courts, Fransen said two other trips to the States have since gone ahead.

Trump has vowed to bring in a new travel ban order to replace the one that the American courts have suspended pending a legal challenge by Washington State and Minnesota. It’s not clear when the new order would be issued.

The Pembina Trails school board isn’t considering new rules around travel in light of the situation in the U.S., even if another ban is implemented.

Fransen said he knows principals, teachers and students within his diverse district all value inclusivity, and a board-wide rule isn’t necessary.

“I just can’t imagine that we would get a request from a school principal to approve a trip to the U.S. where students in the group wouldn’t be allowed to go,” he said. “That would be counter to our culture.”

Linda Givetash, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Vibrations of Hope raises $2,000 for Kelowna Women’s Shelter

A local female driven event succeeds in inaugural year

Big White announces new Slopestyle Invitational

The only North American Gold Level event begins July 5

An evening of burlesque, poetry and mystery descends on Kelowna

The Poetry Elf creates an immersive event that isn’t a typical burlesque

Last chance for input on proposed Kelowna bike lanes

The lanes, slated for Sutherland Avenue, could be built next year

Okanagan Lake not rising as fast as before: River Forecast Centre

Similkameen River flood risk shifts to rainfall, not snowpack

MLA pushing province and pharmaceutical to save Vernon woman

Cystic fibrosis patient can’t afford $20,000/month medication she needs to survive

Woman’s death near Tofino prompts warning about ‘unpredictable’ ocean

Ann Wittenberg was visiting Tofino for her daughter Victoria Emon’s wedding

B.C. man facing deportation says terror accusation left him traumatized

Othman Hamdan was acquitted of terrorism-related charges by a B.C. Supreme Court judge in September

Will Taylor Swift’s high concert ticket prices stop scalpers?

Move by artist comes as B.C. looks to how to regulate scalpers and bots reselling concert tickets

36 fires sparked May long weekend, most due to lightning: BC Wildfire

As warmer weather nears, chief fire officer Kevin Skrepnek says too soon to forecast summer

Ariana Grande sends message of hope on anniversary of Manchester bombing

Prince William joins survivors and emergency workers for remembrance service

Sun Devils second at Kamloops tournament

Kelowna bounces back from 0-2 start to reach the final of River City Classic

Pipeline more important than premiers meeting: Notley

“Canada has to work for all Canadians, that’s why we’re fighting for the pipeline”

Canadian government spending tens of millions on Facebook ads

From January 2016 to March 2018, feds spent more than $24.4 million on Facebook and Instagram ads

Most Read