Burnaby schools calling off U.S.-bound field trips in wake of travel ban

The Burnaby School District is redirecting field trips bound for the U.S., fearing some of its students could be turned away at the border.

While the district hasn't outright banned U.S.-bound field trips, teachers are being urged to consider alternative destinations, according to the board's vice chair Baljinder Narang.

Several school field trips to the U.S. have already been called off following President Donald Trump's travel ban targeting visitors from six Muslim majority countries.

A band trip to Seattle had to be rerouted to Nanaimo and Victoria, while several other upcoming trips had to be re-examined by staff.

The controversial travel ban is currently suspended due to several U.S. court challenges; however, Narang says there's no need to take any chances.

"We are concerned that students who may fall in the category of the ban ... would be vulnerable to either being sent back or possible harassment," she told host Stephen Quinn on CBC's On the Coast. 

Narang says the school is not trying to make a political statement; rather they are just trying to be vigilant.

"We don't know, so we're asking staff to look at alternatives so that we can protect our students."

Students take it in stride

Narang isn't alone in her concerns for the wellbeing of travelling youth. Earlier this month, the Girl Guides of Canada cancelled trips to the U.S. citing travel concerns.

The Toronto District School Board also won't schedule any new trips to the U.S. due to uncertainty surrounding restrictions at the border.

Narang admits that circumstances aren't ideal but says students have taken the changes in stride.

"Students appreciate that we are being proactive about it," she said. "These students are friends, they are classmates, they are peer study groups [and] they are their friends — so they want to look out for each other."

She is confident that students can get fruitful learning experiences without having to cross U.S. soil.

"The experiences that they would get in other places and other opportunities that will come their way will be equally valuable," she said. "Travel is still encouraged, exploring new places is still encouraged."

With files from CBC's On the Coast