IJOA: Field Trips and Student Travel

Melrose Public Schools field trips are intended to allow students experiences that provide them with insight, information, or knowledge that might not be learned within the classroom. As it is widely acknowledged that not all students learn in the same way, field trips allow students the opportunity to expand their learning in ways different from those typically available inside the classroom.

A field trip is student travel away from school premises that is approved by the school district through established procedures for the purpose of curriculum-related study, co-curricular activities, or for interscholastic programs.

Types of Field Trips:

Curriculum-related: a classroom-associated learning experience to afford students the opportunity to gain insight, information or knowledge, such as, but not limited to, a walk on adjacent conservation land, a visit to a historic site or museum, or attendance at a cultural performance.

Co-curricular: school-sponsored experiences associated with school groups that normally meet outside regularly scheduled classes, such as, but not limited to, clubs, student organizations, or academic-related teams.

Interscholastic: in-district or out-of-district events in which students participate as representatives of the Melrose Public Schools, such as, but not limited to, athletics, cheerleading, and the performing arts.

Duration of Field Trips:

Day Trips

A one-way distance from the school that does not exceed 100 miles and overnight travel is not involved

Long-distance and Overnight Trips

A one-way distance from the school that exceeds 100 miles; or

Overnight travel is planned between the hours of midnight and six a.m., inclusive;

Or

An overnight stay is planned; and

The trip is within the continental United States

 International Trips

A multi-day program beyond the borders of the continental United States.

Inclusion

Reasonable accommodations will be provided to allow eligible students with disabilities to participate in scheduled field trips.

Funding

The Melrose Public Schools will strive to offer curriculum-related class field trips with a minimum of expense to the individual student. Reasonable charges may be assessed to cover the actual field-trip costs. The Melrose Public Schools will attempt to provide field-trip financial assistance to those who qualify and require them. However, no student is guaranteed a full or partial scholarship for the purpose of attending any field trip.

Chaperone Disclosures

As required by State Law, all chaperones who are municipal employees shall comply with the disclosure requirements established under the Conflict of Interest law and regulations of the Ethics Commission.

Application

Components of the Procedures for Field Trips

The Superintendent shall develop and promulgate written procedures for the operation of field trips that will provide for the health and safety of the students and meet the requirements of state law or regulation. Matters to be addressed include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Accommodations;
  • Approval process;
  • Cancellation/trip insurance;
  • Consent/waiver;
  • Costs;
  • Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) checks for all chaperones;
  • Emergency contacts;
  • Forms;
  • Fundraising;
  • Liability insurance;
  • Medical insurance and medical care;
  • Provision during schools hours for those students not participating;
  • Scholarships;
  • Student behavior;
  • Supervision/chaperones;
  • Transportation; and
  • Travel plan.

Planning

The building principal is responsible for seeing that a teacher, advisor, or group of individuals proposing a field trip plans, implements, and assesses the field trip with the following guidelines in mind:

  • The objectives of the trip are specifically related to the curriculum, co-curricular experiences, or interscholastic events;
  • The total ongoing school program will not be adversely affected by participation of staff and students taking the trip;
  • The planning of the trip provides for the safety and access of students;
  • Appropriate educational experiences will be provided for those eligible students who do not participate in curriculum-related, field trips scheduled on school days;
  • The proposed program is feasible within the time allocated;
  • If possible, and where appropriate, there should be a preview of the place to be visited by a teacher or staff member, unless the trip has been experienced previously;
  • The financial impact on school system and family resources will be considered;
  • The planning of the field trip provides a minimum of two adult chaperones and adult-student ratio appropriate for the particular student group and the trip where practical;
  • The primary transportation for overnight field trips will be a commercial carrier licensed for passenger transportation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Carriers with a safety rating of “conditional” or “unsatisfactory” will not be used. Trip itineraries will leave enough time for drivers to rest in conformity with federal hour-of service requirements. (Any contract with a private carrier must prohibit the use of subcontractors unless approved by the Superintendent. The Superintendent shall not approve use of any subcontractor unless the subcontractor meets the criteria referenced previously in this section.)
  • If primary transportation for any field trip, whether day, overnight, or international trip, is other than U.S. commercial carrier, the form of transportation will be noted on the Consent/Waiver form; and
  • Both male and female chaperones should be selected and assigned where appropriate.

Authorization

Day Trips

The building principal is vested with the authority to approve day trips.

Long-distance and Overnight Trips

The School Committee is vested with the authority to approve long-distance and overnight trips except those required for student participation in competitions or contests (which require Superintendent approval).

International Trips

The Melrose School Committee is vested with the authority to approve all trips beyond the borders of the continental United States.

Cancellation/Exclusion from School Sponsored Trips

The Superintendent has the authority to cancel any field trips up until the time of departure for any reason. In such event, school officials will make a reasonable effort to obtain a refund of monies paid by students and parents. However, such refunds are not guaranteed. In the event a student fails to meet expectations for appropriate conduct on a field trip, including but not limited to those set forth in the school’s Code of Conduct, school staff may contact the student’s parents or guardian, and staff shall have the discretion to send the student home. The student’s parents or guardian shall be responsible for any additional expense incurred in such circumstances. Students may also be disciplined in accordance with the school’s Student Handbook and/or applicable code of conduct.

Non-school Sponsored Trips

Teachers and other school staff sometimes privately conduct educational tours or trips involving the participation of Melrose students. The School Committee neither sanctions nor prohibits such activities, nor assumes any responsibility for them. Teachers and other school staff are prohibited from soliciting students for privately run trips through the school system. Teachers and other school staff are expected to clearly state that such trips are not school-sponsored and that the Melrose School Committee and the Melrose Public Schools do not sanction the trip or assume any responsibility.

STUDENT TRAVEL

All student trips which include late night or overnight travel (between midnight and 6:00 am) must have prior approval of the Superintendent of Schools. Initial approval by the Superintendent of Schools is required before engaging students in fundraising activities. The Superintendent of Schools will also consider the educational value of the trip in relation to the cost prior to granting initial approval. Overnight trips should offer significant educational benefits to students that clearly justify the time and expense of the trip. Such trips should be appropriate for the grade level.

Final approval will not be granted until all preparations for the trip have been completed including, but not limited to, all logistical details involving transportation, accommodation arrangements and fundraising efforts. The Superintendent of Schools requires that final approval be sought no less than 30 days prior to the scheduled trip dates.

Teachers and other school staff are prohibited from soliciting for privately run trips through the school system and in the schools. The Superintendent of Schools will only review for approval school-sanctioned trips. The Superintendent of Schools will not review or approve trips that are privately organized and run without school sanctioning.

STUDENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS

Transportation

The use of vans or private automobiles for trips planned to include late night or overnight student travel is prohibited. Late night or overnight trips will use commercial motor coaches whenever practical.

Trips planned to include late night or overnight student travel will include a pre-trip check of companies, drivers, and vehicles. CORI checks will be conducted in accordance with Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 71, section 38R.

The Superintendent or designee will ensure that the selected carrier is licensed for passenger transportation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The district will not contract with any carrier that has a safety rating of “conditional” or “unsatisfactory”. FMCSA ratings are available at http://www.safersys.org/.

The contract with the carrier will prohibit the use of subcontractors unless sufficient notice is given to the district that allows verification of the subcontractor’s qualifications.

Trip Scheduling

Overnight accommodations should be made in advance with student safety and security in mind. Whenever possible, trip schedulers should avoid planning student travel between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m., due to the increased risk of vehicular accidents during this time period. Whenever possible, overnight trips should be scheduled on weekends or during school vacations to minimize lost classroom time. Non-academic field trips are considered “optional school programs” and do not count toward meeting structured learning time requirements. (Refer to the Massachusetts Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education publication Student Learning Time Regulations Guide)

Trip itineraries must leave enough time for drivers to rest in conformity with federal hour-of service requirements and common sense.

Trip scheduling should take into account the likelihood of delays due to weather, traffic, stragglers, and other unanticipated factors.

If substantially all members of a class are participating in a trip, the school should provide appropriate substitute activities for any students not participating.

If hotel accommodations have a swimming pool, staff will notify students that they may not swim unless a lifeguard is present and on duty.

Fundraising

The amount of time to be devoted to fundraising should be reasonable and commensurate with students’ obligations for homework, after-school activities, and jobs.

Group fundraising activities are preferred. Students should not be assigned individual fundraising targets. All fundraising will be consistent with Policy JJE: Student Fundraising Activities.

If students are charged individual fees for participation in curriculum-based class field trips, every effort should be made to provide scholarships where needed.

Implementation

The Superintendent will develop appropriate procedures pursuant to this policy.

MSC informational review: May 24, 2016; June 14, 2016; and June 28, 2016

MSC first vote: July 26, 2016

MSC second vote: August 23, 2016