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310: Off-Site Activities

Date: August 31, 2021

Responsible Administrator: Associate Superintendent, Education Services


PURPOSE

Student learning can be enhanced through off-site activities. Off-site activities enable students to participate in quality educational experiences that are at the heart of the educational process and connected to the Guide to Education, Programs of Study, curriculum and learning outcomes.

Sturgeon Public Schools will not compromise the safety and security of staff and students. Therefore, all decisions related to off-site activities will be based on a safety and security-first criteria.

PROCESS

The Superintendent or designate will be responsible for the process involving approval of off-site activities.

The Superintendent may cancel or interrupt any approved off-site activity at any time up to the point of return from that activity where the Superintendent considers the safety and well-being of students and supervisors to be at unusual risk, real or potential, due to emergent circumstances.

DEFINITIONS

Low Risk are learning experiences conducted off school grounds during the day which do not extend overnight, and transportation is not involved. Students walk to the activity. Trips may include but are not limited to a walk to the senior’s center to perform.

Day Trips – Low Risk to Moderate are learning experiences conducted off school grounds during the day which do not extend overnight and present themselves as moderate to low risk activities. Trips may include but are not limited to Fort Edmonton Park and the TELUS World of Science.

Principal approval is required.

Day Trips – High Risk are learning experiences conducted off school grounds during the day which do not extend overnight and present themselves as high risk activities. Trips may include but are not limited to canoeing, skiing, and snowboarding.

Principal approval is required.

Extra-Curricular Season of Play are competitions conducted on school property and / or at opposing schools or public venues during the day, evenings and weekends which do not extend overnight and present themselves as high risk activities. Competitions may include but are not limited to basketball, volleyball, and football.

Principal approval is required.

Overnight – Moderate Risk are learning experiences within Alberta that are conducted off school grounds where students remain overnight at a destination and are involved in low to moderate risk activities. Trips may include but are not limited to sports tournaments, band festivals, and hiking.

Principal and Superintendent/CE0 or designate approval is required.

Overnight – High Risk are learning experiences outside of Alberta that are conducted off school grounds where students remain overnight at a destination and are involved in high risk activities. Trips may include but are not limited to canoeing, skiing, and snowboarding.

Principal and Superintendent or designate approval is required.

National Trips - High Risk School Leadership requires preauthorization by the Superintendent or designate prior to exploration of any National Trip and subsequent communication with parents or students. A written proposal must be submitted to the Superintendent or designate a minimum of six (6) months prior to any planned National Trip.

Principal and Superintendent or designate approval is required.

International Trips – High Risk School Leadership requires preauthorization by the Superintendent or designate prior to exploration of any International Trip and subsequent communication with parents or students. A written proposal must be submitted to the Superintendent or designate a minimum of six (6) months prior to any planned International Trip.

Principal and Superintendent or designate approval is required.

PROCEDURE

1. The Superintendent or designate has the power to authorize requests for off-site activities provided that the proposal includes:

1.1 Attention to the safety, security, and appropriate supervision of students.

1.2 Attention to risk management of the proposed activities.

1.3 Protection of students, staff, and volunteers of the Division.

1.4 An itinerary that would be deemed safe by a reasonable parent/guardian and meets the needs of all students.

1.4.1 Supervisors shall not entertain major deviations to the proposed itinerary of any trip once parental consent has been received.

1.5 Accommodation and travel arrangements that would be deemed safe by a reasonable parent/guardian.

1.6 A budget that is reasonable, not prohibitive and addresses the costs associated with the trip.

1.6.1 Excludes academies, athletic teams, year-end celebrations, and extended trips or tours not necessary to meet learning expectations in a grade or course.

1.7 Provision for alternative educational programs for those students whose parents do not wish them to participate.

1.8 No communication with students or parents/guardians shall occur prior to obtaining the applicable approvals.

1.9 Parent/guardian permission or approval.

1.10 No trip that exceeds five (5) school days.

1.11 The Superintendent or designate has the right to modify or cancel a national or international trip without compensation.

1.11.1 If a trip needs to be cancelled for any reason, attempts will be made to refund trip fees that may have been paid by students and/or parents/guardians; and

1.11.2 In the event a national or international trip or trip outside of Alberta is modified or cancelled, the Superintendent or designate shall bear no responsibility for the costs incurred.

2. Supervision

2.1 No teacher shall be assigned instructional time specifically to organize off-site activities.

2.2 Each off-site activity shall have a designated teacher-in-charge. The teacher shall be in attendance for the duration of any high risk, overnight or out-of-province trips.

2.2.1 The teacher shall provide a report by phone or email to the Superintendent or designate in the event of unusual circumstances resulting in a major modification to the itinerary of the trip.

2.3 The teacher shall immediately report any serious injury, ambulance call out, or hospital visit to the Superintendent or designate.

2.4 The teacher must always have overall responsibility for the off-site activity to ensure compliance with this procedure. The teacher shall ensure that supervision is always available and that supervisors are prepared to deal with any emergencies that may arise. The supervisory arrangements shall consider:

2.4.1 Student age, maturity, needs, and ability;

2.4.2 The inherent risk of the activity; and

2.4.3 The circumstances of the activity.

2.5 The teacher shall be familiar with and conduct a safety assessment of the proposed off-site activity.

2.6 The teacher shall ensure that training, preparation, orientation, and expectations are provided to all students and supervisors.

2.7 The teacher shall be responsible for ensuring that the following items are present and readily available on off-site activities:

2.7.1 List of student participants;

2.7.2 Phone contact numbers of parents/guardians/emergency contacts listed on the Off-Site Activity Permission Form;

2.7.3 Information regarding medication and medi-alert needs of participants; and

2.7.4 An appropriately equipped portable first aid kit.

2.8 To protect the privacy of individuals, the teacher shall ensure the information in articles 2.7.1, 2.7.2 and 2.7.3 is kept secure at all times as per Administrative Procedure 300 - Security of Personal and Division Information.

2.9 On overnight trips involving students of both genders, male and female supervisors shall be present.

2.10 For high-risk activities, competent instruction and supervision in these activities are mandatory. Competence may be established by virtue of a certificate from a governing body for activities such as skiing and canoeing. In areas where certificates are not issued, competency may be recognized by virtue of experience and demonstrated expertise in the activity.

2.11 A Principal may authorize persons other than teachers to provide supervision or instruction when warranted by the nature of the specific activity to meet the safety requirements of this administrative procedure.

2.12 Only assigned teachers and authorized supervisors shall accompany students on an off-site activity. Volunteers must be approved as a supervisor by the Principal and are required to have a current criminal record check and vulnerable sector check as per Administrative Procedure 315 – Volunteers – section 2.

2.13 When necessary, Principals are expected to seek advice and assistance from experts in planning off-site activities and in assessing risk.

3. Guidelines for approval

3.1 All grades will be considered for approval of day trips. 

3.2 Students in Grades 4-6 will only be considered for travel within Alberta.

3.3 Students in Grades 7-9 may be considered for national travel.

3.4 Students in Grades 10-12 may be considered for international travel.

4. Planning Procedures

4.1 Teachers are expected to submit an Off-Site Activity/Excursion Request via CLEVR to the Principal in accordance with the following timelines:

Day Trip – The Principal must provide written approval to the teacher organizer at least ten (10) days prior to the Trip.

Overnight Trip – The Principal must provide written approval to the teacher organizer at least thirty (30) days prior to the Trip.

National or International Trips – The Principal requires preauthorization by the Superintendent or designate prior to exploration of any National Trip and subsequent communication with parents or students. A written proposal must be submitted to the Superintendent or designate a minimum of six (6) months prior to any planned National Trip.

The Request must address the following:

4.1.1 Educational goals established for the activity which are compatible with the objectives of the course(s) being taught;

4.1.2 The extent to which the off-site activity will interfere with the student’s entire educational program;

4.1.3 The budget, ensuring that students who are unable to pay associated fees are not excluded from the off-site activity (with the exceptions noted in 1.6.1);

4.1.4 The type of transportation required;

4.1.5 When deemed appropriate based on activity and distance travelled, access to an emergency support vehicle is recommended if one is not readily available; 

4.1.6 An itinerary outlining approximate times at which the off-site activity will be conducted at specific locations;

4.1.7 The numbers and names of adults who will attend as supervisors and the proposed level or ratio of supervision;

4.1.8 Information related to safety procedures and medical procedures for those that may require such; and

4.1.9 A thorough review of the excluded activities and the variety of risks involved.

4.2 For school activities that involve more than one trip outside the boundaries of the school such as swimming lessons, physical education classes, outdoor education classes and interschool sports within a league, a single parent consent will suffice if the information to the parent/guardian includes both a schedule and dates of all activities. Any changes to the schedule must be communicated to the parent/guardian in writing. Should any of these be high-risk activities, separate off-site parental consent must be obtained.

A single parent consent will suffice for walking trips in the neighborhood of the school. The Off-Site Activities Annual Consent is accessed via the Parent Portal.

4.3 Teachers are also responsible to:

4.3.1 Review staff, supervision and liability implications;
4.3.2 Estimate the costs associated with the activity;

4.3.3 Have an initial discussion with the Principal to review policy requirements and obtain approval to proceed with planning;

4.3.4 Consult with other teachers who teach courses to students who will be affected by the trip; and

4.3.5 Ensure meaningful alternative in-school learning experiences are made available for those students not participating in the off-site activity.

4.4 Employees are always expected to comply with the Division’s Administrative Procedure 713 - Alcohol and Substances in the Workplace while on off-site activities.

4.5 For Out-of-Province and International Trips, teachers must consult the Canadian Consulate Web Page at http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories for Travel Advisory information at the initial and final stages of the planning process.

4.5.1 One (1) day prior to the trip the teacher must verify that the Canadian Consulate is permitting travel to that specific destination.

4.6 Off-site activities/excursions that are not directly sponsored by a school or the Division are the total responsibility of the planners, tour agencies and transportation agencies involved.

4.6.1 Division staff is advised that they must not in any way be involved, even on an advisory basis, in such trips/excursions as outlined in 4.6 above.

4.6.2 Division staff are not to recruit students, or photocopy and/or distribute material on behalf of community-based tours and trips.

4.6.3 Any staff who participate in community trips shall communicate leave requests to the Associate Superintendent Human Resources.

4.7 All staff and authorized supervisors are included in the Division’s liability insurance when acting within the scope of their duties as approved by school administration. It is incumbent upon off-site activity planners to ensure that appropriate insurance coverage exists for the activity to be undertaken.

4.7.1 Student Accident Insurance coverage is limited to trips within Canada. Travel accident insurance is required for international trips. The Student Accident Insurance policy provides protection while students are attending school events within their own province. There is very limited coverage available under the policy when a student is out of country for a school event, therefore it should not be solely relied upon.

4.7.2 When using a private contractor to transport children (e.g., private bus), the supervisory teacher must make certain that the vehicle has adequate insurance, the driver is appropriately licensed, and the Principal is informed of the driver's name.

4.7.3 For any off-site activities involving participation in sports and other physical activities, all staff members must adhere to the Safety Guidelines for Physical Activity in Alberta Schools.

4.8 A student representing their school at school sponsored events shall be transported in Principal approved transportation, by their own parents, by him/herself or by staff with parental permission. Parents shall advise the Principal or supervising teacher in writing, in advance of the activity if the student is not traveling with the rest of the students.

4.8.1 The student will not transport any other student other than a sibling; and

4.8.2 Dismissing a student directly from an off-site activity venue to the care of the custodial parent/guardian is permitted, however, if the student is to be dismissed to a parent/guardian of a friend, the parent/guardian must advise the Principal or supervising teacher in writing.

5. Supervision and Volunteers

5.1 All off-site activities/excursions must be under the direct supervision of at least one (1) teacher.

5.2 Both male and female supervisors will be provided for overnight (or longer) co-educational trips.

5.3 The teacher is responsible for ensuring that an acceptable level of student discipline is maintained.

5.4 To ensure appropriate student behavior and safety, the Principal is responsible for adhering adequate supervision for different activities as outlined in the "Safety Guidelines for Physical Activity in Alberta Schools".

5.5 Instructors who are not employed by the Division are eligible to be supervisors.

5.6 Everyone involved in the off-site activity/excursion must be dressed/equipped in a manner appropriate to the activities to be undertaken.

5.7 Volunteers must comply with the requirements of Administrative Procedure 315 – Volunteers. In addition, volunteers are expected to:

5.7.1 Know the details of the planned activity, and their specific duties and authority prior to departure;

5.7.2 Support and follow the school code of conduct;

5.7.3 Report any inappropriate conduct to the teacher-in-charge;

5.7.4 Adhere to the schedule on the itinerary;

5.7.5 Dress appropriately according to the type of activity; and

5.7.6 Fulfill their duties for the duration of the trip/excursion.

5.8 The teacher-in-charge will ensure that appropriate communication devices are taken on the off-site activity so that constant communication within the group and access to external communication is available as required.

5.9 Overnight trips require volunteer parent/guardian supervisors to provide a current (within the last three years) clean criminal record check and a vulnerable sector check. In consultation with the Superintendent or designate, unclean record checks will be reviewed.

5.9.1 For information related to recommended supervision ratios and instructional considerations, visit: Safety Guidelines for Physical Activity in Alberta Schools which is available on the website at:

https://education.alberta.ca/media/160206/sg_pa_final_2014.pdf

5.10 For safety reasons, only students and staff may attend off-site activities.

6. Safety Guidelines

With respect to student safety, the Principal and staff are to take reasonable measures to minimize the risk to students participating in off-site activities. Safety guidelines are as follows:

6.1 Outdoor activities should not be conducted when extreme environmental factors present a danger to student health and safety.

6.2 There is a pre-planned itinerary from which the trip supervisor will not deviate unless, in the opinion of the supervising teacher, it is necessary to do so in emergency or extenuating circumstances.

6.3 When off-site activities/excursions are planned for remote wilderness areas, the supervising teacher shall:

6.3.1 Provide to the Principal a report written by the supervising teacher or other qualified individual that provides an on-site visit review of the area prior to requesting permission to take students on a trip to that particular location; such previews are to be undertaken whenever a new location is being considered for use, or when a location is being used for a different season of the year;

6.3.2 Be familiar with the area and with seasonal variations for the location they plan to visit;

6.3.3 Use professional guides when appropriate or as directed;

6.3.4 Have established safety and emergency procedures understood by all participants;

6.3.5 Ensure that appropriate communication devices are taken on the trip;

6.3.6 Ensure constant communication within the group and access to external communication as needed;

6.3.7 Inform appropriate local authorities such as the RCMP, forestry or park officials about the program, the location and route;

6.3.8 Establish procedures to contact the Principal via RCMP, forestry, or park officials in the event of an emergency;

6.3.9 Be aware of the location of the nearest accessible medical station;

6.3.10 Ensure that required permits, fishing licenses, and area use permits have been obtained from appropriate authorities; and

6.3.11 Ensure that if a group splits into two (2) or more independent travelling groups, each group must have a Division approved supervisor.

6.4 The possession and use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs by any participant, including staff and volunteer supervisors, is strictly prohibited during the duration of the off-site activity and applies to all off-site activities regardless of the age of the participants or local laws, customs and culture. All participants shall be made aware of the local laws and customs that may impact their conduct and decisions.

7. Service Providers

If the school does not have qualified staff or volunteers or the necessary equipment to instruct a specialized activity, a reputable service provider should be used. The service provider should be expected to instruct and supervise students in addition to school supervisors. Although a service provider is used, the teacher-in-charge is still required to complete a site assessment and risk analysis.

7.1 Most service providers require waivers to be completed by the client, however, since this measure is not valid or applicable in the case of minors it is necessary for the school to enter into an alternate contractual agreement. The Principal must ensure that the service provider has adequate insurance to cover the activity. Schools, teachers and students are not permitted to sign waivers from service providers where the school, teacher or student/guardian sign away their legal rights.

Specialized Activities

8. Water Activities

8.1 Each off-site activity that includes water-related activities must have a safety assessment, unless the activity is on an approved activities list.

8.2 All participants involved in sailing or boating activities must wear a Transport Canada approved lifejacket or Personal Flotation Device.

8.3 For activities involving canoeing, sailing or power craft, the activity must meet or exceed the Safety Guidelines for Physical Activity in Alberta Schools.

8.4 When canoe activities take place on lakes or rivers, the teacher must have visited the site prior to the trip and be familiar with the proposed route and the seasonal conditions at the time of the activity.

8.5 Adequate instruction and demonstration must be given to all participants involved before allowing the participants to undertake any water-related activity.

9. Hot Tubs/Swimming Pools

9.1 Students may not use swimming pools or hot tubs in proximity to swimming pools, unless there is a lifeguard on duty.

9.2 If the facility operator does not provide a lifeguard at a hot tub or swimming pool, students may use the hot tub/swimming pool if the school provides a lifeguard over the age of twenty (20) years with current certification in National Lifeguard Service (NLS), Standard First Aid, and CPR Basic Rescuer.

10. Skiing and Snowboarding

10.1 Downhill skiing and snowboarding, while considered High Risk activities, are acceptable for students in grades 4 to 12, if the following conditions are met:

10.1.1 Skiing or snowboarding are part of a well-balanced yearly program and reflect the school’s commitment to quality physical education.

10.1.2 The activity includes, at a minimum, one (1) mandatory ski/snowboard lesson by a qualified instructor to identify student level of proficiency and provide safety guidelines on the hill.

10.1.3 Prior to the skiing or snowboarding trip, the teacher must:

10.1.3.1 Be familiar with the ski resort;

10.1.3.2 Contact the ski operator in order to arrange student identification and controls procedure; and

10.1.3.3 Understand the ski resort’s emergency protocol.

10.2 Upon arrival at the ski resort, the teacher must:

10.2.1 Divide students into levels of ability as described by the parent’s signed acknowledgement of the student’s skier or snowboarder’s classification.

10.2.2 Assist the ski resort staff with grouping students for their mandatory lesson.

10.2.3 Along with the ski resort staff, emphasize to the students that they will be given permission to use specified slopes or trails, and that the use of other slopes or trails is prohibited.

10.2.4 Assist the ski resort staff with controlling student access to slopes or trails.

10.3 At the conclusion of the mandatory lesson:

10.3.1 The ski resort instructor will identify the level of ability of the students and assign appropriate ski or snowboarding slopes or trails.

10.3.2 Students may begin supervised skiing and snowboarding on the assigned slopes or trails.

10.3.3 During the supervised ski time, students must ski in pairs or groups of three (3) or four (4).

10.3.4 The minimum supervision ratio for skiing and snowboarding is one (1) supervisor to fifteen (15) students: Grades 4 – 6; twenty (20) students: Grades 7 – 9; thirty (30) students: Grades 10 -12, including at least one (1) supervisor in the ski lodge.

10.3.5 Supervision of ski slopes must be carried out by supervising on a constant rotation system by supervisors.

10.3.6 All participants in skiing and snowboarding activities must:

10.3.6.1 Wear a CSA approved ski helmet; and

10.3.6.2 Ski or snowboard only on open runs within the ski area that match the student’s level of ability as determined by the parent/guardian.

10.3.7 Snowboard Terrain Parks are excluded.

10.3.8 Use of snowblades, mini-skiing and ski boards are high risk activities and are not permitted.

11. Accidents and Emergencies

11.1 If an accident occurs during an off-site activity/excursion, the supervising teacher must:

11.1.1 Assess the situation and if injuries have occurred, attend to the immediate medical concerns.

11.1.2 Determine whether the off-site activity/excursion will continue based upon all the circumstances.

11.1.3 Notify the Principal or designate at the earliest opportunity, if serious injuries have occurred so that the Principal or designate may inform the parent(s)/guardian(s).

11.1.4 Complete a Student Injury Report within forty-eight (48) hours of the incident, or as soon as possible upon return to the school, and forward it to the Superintendent or designate.

12. National and International Trips

12.1 Protocol: School Leadership requires preauthorization by the Superintendent or designate prior to exploration of any International Trip and subsequent communication with parents/guardians or students. A written proposal must be submitted to the Superintendent or designate a minimum of six (6) months prior to any planned trip.

12.2 Travel requests may be considered only after the following criteria has been applied:

12.2.1 Has there been investigation to determine if this experience can be achieved in Canada?

12.2.2 Does this experience directly align with Student Learning Outcomes in the curriculum?

12.2.3 Is the potential destination considered safe to travel by Canadian Government Travel alert websites?

12.3 International Trips are considered only for grades 10 - 12.

12.4 The guideline for adult supervisor/student ratio is one to eight (1-8), with co-ed supervisors if both genders of students are attending the trip. Additional supervision is required for students with special needs or who require accommodations.

12.5 All trips require a minimum of two (2) supervisors.

12.6 Supervisors are expected to be Division employees of the school community.

12.7 All suitable staff must be notified by the Principal of possible international trip(s) at the school.

12.8 In order to meet the minimum number of required adult supervisors, staff supervisor’s expenses are to be paid through the collection of international trip fees.

12.9 Non-supervisory adults cannot participate in a field trip.

12.10 Travel credits are not to be used for personal or family use; these credits must be turned over to the school to offset the cost of travel for students or to purchase merchandise for student use.

12.11 The Government of Canada strongly recommends that Canadian children carry a consent letter if they are travelling abroad alone, with only one parent/guardian, with friends, relatives, or with a group. Guidelines regarding Consent Letters are provided by the Government of Canada on their website:

https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/children/consent-letter

13. Approval

13.1 For all off-site activities which occur during the school day, written approval for the off-site activity is obtained by the teacher from the Principal prior to any expectations on the part of the students and/or parents/guardians that the off-site activity will occur. In seeking this approval, the teacher will complete the Off-Site Activity Proposal in CLEVR and submit to the Principal.

13.2 Parents/guardians are to be advised of the nature of the off-site activity and written permission for the child(ren) to attend is to be provided once all approvals have been granted.

13.3 For activities which take place overnight, written approval for the trip is obtained by the teacher from the Principal, and the Principal will obtain written approval from the Superintendent or designate, prior to any expectations on the part of the students and/or parents/guardians that the trip will occur. In seeking this approval, the teacher will complete the proposal in CLEVR and submit to the Principal, who will in turn submit to the Superintendent or designate.

13.4 The Superintendent or designate will review the proposed trip and may, depending on the type of trip, grant preliminary approval, which would indicate permission to proceed with the planning and communication processes or final approval.

13.5 Parents/guardians are to be advised of the nature of the trip and written permission for the child(ren) to attend is to be provided once all approvals have been granted.


References:

Board Policy:  410 Fees
Board Policy:  810 Field Trips
Admin Procedure:  315 Volunteers
Admin Procedure:  425 Purchasing Authority and Procedure
Admin Procedure:  713 Alcohol and Substances in the Workplace
Student Injury Report Form
Off-Site Activities Annual Consent
Safety Guidelines for Physical Activity in Alberta Schools