Winter Field Trips Risk Management Plans
By Matt Komac, Assistant Director - PC Pool Operations
As MSGIA members who are planning ski trips, ice skating parties, and other winter outings for their students, you should be thinking about student and staff safety and about managing the district’s risk. So, with that need in mind, we are providing you with this shortlist of questions to consider prior to any school-sponsored trip:
- Does the district have staff and/or volunteers to adequately supervise students?
- Have the volunteers gone through a background check and been approved per district policy?
- Have the parents/legal guardians, students, and staff been provided with adequate notice of relevant information relating to the trip?
- Have district expectations regarding student conduct, rules, and regulations for the school trip been clearly communicated to parents and students?
- Have the parents/legal guardians provided the district with appropriate written permission for their child to participate in the school trip?
- Have the parents/legal guardians been informed of the inherent risks associated with their child partaking in the school trip?
- Have the parents/legal guardians given authorization for emergency care?
- Have the parents/legal guardians signed the appropriate liability release form(s)?
On a related note, districts need to understand the risks associated with assisting the trips/activities that are not school-sponsored. In other words, if the district is NOT overseeing all aspects of the trip –including the planning and the actual activity – the district should communicate clearly to students and parents that the event is NOT a school-sponsored event. Further, in those cases where the district is not in charge of ALL aspects of a trip/activity, then it should be understood from the outset that the district is NOT responsible for ANY part of its preparations or its delivery.
As a case in point, if parents are organizing the trip and are in control of the details, the district should NOT lend its buses or other resources without an express understanding that, by doing so, the trip is nonetheless NOT the responsibility of the district. Without such clarity and specificity at the outset, the district could assume risks and liability exposure without having any control over the event.
Although it is impossible to anticipate everything that could happen on a school-sponsored trip, the district – guided in all decisions by the safety and security of the students involved – must do due diligence to take the necessary measures to manage risks associated with such school trips.
With proper planning and oversight, student trips can be a rewarding exercise for all involved. Please contact MSGIA if you have additional questions related to insurance coverage, authorization, and/or appropriate forms to both inform the parents and students of the activity and the inherent risks associated with the activity when you begin planning your District’s next trip. Return to newsletter