Preparing for School District International Trips
Director of Education & Government Practice
School districts may be planning to host a variety of international trips with summer just around the corner, yet school leaders should be aware of issues that could affect their travel plans. Travelers may encounter challenges such as civil unrest or anti-American protests in foreign countries, among other considerations such as COVID-19 restrictions. Remember to review all travel advisories before traveling abroad.
This article will highlight important protocols school districts should consider before hosting a foreign trip with students.
Preparing for International Travel
Ensure your students and group leaders are aware of the country’s basic laws and customs before traveling. Keep in mind, when travelers are in a foreign country, they are subject to that country’s laws. Districts should provide educational materials and encourage students to conduct research before entering and exploring a new country. Getting to know local customs can help travelers understand cultural norms and act accordingly.
Emergency plans and embassy
All chaperones and group leaders should be aware of and have access to emergency procedures. This should include emergency phone numbers for each student and a list of nearby medical facilities. All travelers should have an international calling plan that works in the country being visited. Although not likely, an emergency can arise during an international trip and medical attention may be necessary.
Note: All participants of the trip should fill in the emergency information page of their passports.
In addition to nearby medical facilities, locate the nearest United States Embassy or Consulate prior to traveling.
Passport and visas
Students, trip chaperones, and group leaders should make copies of their passport’s data page and any visas in the event that their passport is lost or stolen. A copy should be kept on file with both the school district and the chaperones during the trip.
Before the trip takes place, hold a mandatory meeting for all participants. This meeting will allow parents and guardians to ask questions and address concerns. Make sure the district’s insurance coverage is placed prior to the trip, and will cover international emergency medical needs. Reach out to your M3 Account Executive to discuss coverages.
COVID-19 has changed risk management considerations when traveling to foreign countries. Review the COVID-19 protocol for each country here. Note that some countries require a 14 day quarantine period for travelers who test positive. The individual is normally placed in a hotel room and expected to stay there for the entirety of their quarantine. There may be instances when the individual doesn’t have access to their room key and armed guards are present to keep the traveler in their hotel room. School districts must have a plan for this contingency and group leaders who can stay with the positive traveler – especially if it’s a student.
As school districts begin to plan and prepare for international trips, they must be aware of the country’s current “climate” and have certain preparations in place.
- Be conscious of the country’s laws and customs
- Have an emergency plan in place and locate the nearest U.S. Embassy
- Have participant’s passports and visas on file in the event they are lost or stolen during the trip
- Ensure your district’s insurance plans include medical coverage for the international trip
- Be aware of COVID-19 protocols in foreign country and U.S. protocols for entering back into the country