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District revisits field trips decision

Nanaimo students might get to go on international and out-of-province field trips this year after all.

The district is reconsidering its decision to put all on hold due to teacher job action. The concern was students losing any money they put down on the trips if the job action escalates and teachers are unable to accompany students.

Parents with children in Woodlands Secondary School's tour band spoke out earlier this month about the decision – students are at risk of losing about $10,000 in deposits paid for a trip to Cuba in February.

A delegation of Woodlands students and their parents showed up to the school board meeting Wednesday evening, during which trustees referred the matter to the superintendent for resolution.

Trustee Jamie Brennan, who made the motion, said it is his expectation that something will be worked out so that students will be able to go on these trips.

He said teachers could commit to going regardless of job action or there may be an opportunity for parents to chaperone the trip.

"In the end, what I want is for these trips to go ahead," said Brennan. "Some of these kids are in Grade 12, so this is the last chance for this kind of thing."

Superintendent Dave Hutchinson said the district needs to have staff connected to these trips and he will look into ways the trips can go ahead while protecting the district from liability issues should a full strike arise and a teacher is unable to supervise the trip.

Sherry Blake, a parent heading up the fundraising drive for the Woodlands Cuba trip, said parents are disappointed that the hold on international and out-of-province trips wasn't removed at Wednesday's meeting because the airline wants students to pay the next installment of money for the trip.

If the trip does not receive the go-ahead soon, possibly in the next few days, students will still lose the trip, she said.

"We need something to happen quickly," said Blake. "We're on a deadline."

The district approved the trip last year when it was aware of impending teacher job action, she added.

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