Sooke School District reconsiders U.S. trips

Uncertainty over what might happen to students at U.S border leads to decision

In light of the controversy surrounding the United States’ border policies, the Sooke School District is reconsidering planned class trips down south.

“I don’t want any kid to have to suffer because of this,” said SD62 superintendent Jim Cambridge. “That’s certainly a consideration.”

The Board of Education discussed the topic at their meeting Tuesday night and asked that the four trips to the U.S. that had previously been approved by the district be reconsidered.

Ultimately, the responsibility of deciding whether these visits, which would include roughly 135 students, will go ahead as scheduled will fall on Cambridge. He is waiting for a new executive order to come from the U.S. before granting final approval.

A court order has suspended U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order that temporarily banned people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. However, many travellers from countries not on that list, including several Canadians, were denied entry before the ban was suspended.

“Once the new order comes we’ll get some advice,” noted Cambridge, adding the B.C. School Trustees Association has hired an immigration lawyer to consult with its various districts.

There are a number of immigrants and a few refugee students in the Sooke School District, Cambridge said. If there is a possibility that one or more students will be denied entry into the U.S., the entire trip will be cancelled rather than leaving behind or singling out individuals.

“Right now we’re sticking to safety and the assurance anyone we send will be able to cross the border,” he said.

For a school trip to be granted approval from the district, principals must first give their seal of approval and Cambridge noted such approvals can be rescinded at any time. He added that some schools are already discussing alternatives to their planned trips.

“We’ll find out what happens in the next little while.”

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