Canadian schools, Girl Guides cancel trips to U.S.

Students congregate on the playing field of the North Toronto Collegiate Institute, a high school run by the Toronto District School Board in Toronto, Ontario, Canada March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's largest school board and its national Girl Guides organization have suspended new trips to the United States, citing uncertainty around who is allowed into the country.

Toronto District School Board, which oversees more than 250,000 students, decided Wednesday to suspend U.S. trips for students at its schools, spokesman Ryan Bird said. Twenty-five previously approved trips will go forward.

The board has been following President Donald Trump's executive orders banning citizens of some Muslim-majority countries, Bird said. Both the first and second versions of these travel bans have been blocked by the courts.

"Since the uncertainty around the second order and if it will be implemented continues to be there, we decided we had to make a decision," Bird wrote in an email. "Not to mention, we were getting a number of questions from students, parents and staff wondering about the status of U.S. trips."

Bird could not say how many students would have been affected by the ban but "it's fair to say that we have students from all of the countries mentioned in the executive order."

Girl Guides of Canada took a similar step earlier this month.

"Our operational decision to limit U.S. travel at this time was a difficult one to make, but one based solely on ensuring all girls and women in Guiding can fully participate in our Guiding trips, no matter the destination," the organization wrote in a statement on its website.

"This decision was not made lightly. ... Our primary goal was to reduce the risk of our members encountering difficulties at the border and ensuring that no girl is left behind."

Other school boards and youth organizations are considering similar moves. The Ottawa-Carleton school board in Canada's capital asked parents for their feedback on such a suspension. "The parents did not want the trips to be canceled," spokeswoman Sharlene Hunter wrote in an email.

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)