IICA-R2: Extended Off-Continent Field Studies



An extended international field study (Category 5) involves absence from school for normally (5) days or more, and international land or air travel and as such involves additional risks.  These risks arise from: 

a)    travel beyond the community of the school district;

b)    group living 24 hours per day;

c)    activities which are different than everyday;

d)    language, custom and cultural differences; and

e)    living in areas with a different social infrastructure. 

Accordingly, additional caution must be exercised when planning extended field studies. 


The extended international field study application is a time sensitive 3-step approval process that has been established to enable systematic planning, review and approval by the Principal and Director of Instruction, with ample time for feedback on the trip proposal. 

1.1       Step One of Approval

Educators sponsoring extended international field studies must obtain the signed preliminary approval of the Principal before communicating with parents, and making any commitments. 

The sponsoring Educators must provide Principals with a Extended Off-Continent Field Study Application (Step 1), preferably attached to a detailed Field Studies Proposal Form. 

Before approving the preliminary Extended Off-Continent Field Study Application; the Principal will ensure that the proposal: 

a)    has substantive educational rationale;

b)    has a duration and number of days absent from school which is reasonable; (The maximum number of days for an extended field study is fourteen (14) days in total, with only 5 of the 14 days being school “Instructional” days.)

c)    co-ordinates with overall school programs and considers learning and program delivery of other classes remaining in the school;

d)    appears to be a safe activity for the planned group;

e)    has an appropriate safety assessment and plan;

f)     is not a prohibited activity or does not involve travel to an area with a travel advisory indicating “avoid all travel” or “avoid non-essential travel” on the http://travel.gc.ca webpage.  Where the destination has a travel advisory indicating “exercise a high degree of caution” the Principal and Educator must carefully consider whether there are educationally compelling reasons to go to this destination, the appropriateness of the destination, and must make a determination that appropriate safety and security precautions are in place. 

g)    establishes criteria for appropriate access and eligibility;

h)    is affordable for the intended group and co-ordinates with the overall school plans for fundraising;

i)      has appropriate business and financial arrangements established for the trip including travel contracts, insurance coverage and cancellation losses responsibility;

j)      has a group comprehensive student travel insurance package for all

participants that includes comprehensive medical, trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage.

k)    has a prudent plan of student supervision

l)      provides for appropriate communications to parents, guardians, students, teachers, staff and volunteers on the plans, risks and financial arrangements as the basis of providing informed consent to be involved; and

m)   provides for appropriate pre-travel preparations and the establishment of expectations with students and all other participants. 

The Principal will review the Extended Off-Continent Field Study Application form before approving it to ensure that it is diligently completed and the field study is well planned, has inherent and substantive educational value, and addresses the considerations in this policy and regulation.


1.2       Step Two of Approval: REQ-SC-031 Submission

Upon the Principal’s approval, The Educator-in-Charge will submit a copy of the Extended Off-Continent Field Study Application (REQ-SC-031) form and supporting documents to the Director of Instruction to obtain preliminary approval no less than 4 months prior to the proposed departure date. 

Preliminary approval of the Director of Instruction is required before making any financial commitments and commencing fundraising or fund collection of any nature. 

Once the Director of Instruction provides Stage 2 Approval, the sponsors can go forward with trip planning and fundraising. 

1.3       Step Three of Approval: REQ-SC-015 Submission

Once all trip details have been finalized, including the number of students participating,   supervisors identified, travel arrangements, and complete trip itinerary confirmed the Educator-in Charge must submit  the VSB Request For Field Trip form (REQ-SC-015) to the Principal and Director of Instruction for final signed approval no less than 6 weeks prior to the departure date.  

Attached must be copies of the:

a)    parent information letter

b)    parent consent form

c)    final trip Itinerary 

d)    accommodation contact information throughout the excursion, including billets

e)    staff contact information throughout the excursion

f)     copies of passports for all students and staff travelling

g)    proof of group student insurance coverage.

            A full disclosure of risks must be included in these documents.  

2.0       SUPERVISION 

The selection of supervisors for extended international field studies must address the following considerations in addition to the general supervisor selection considerations identified in Regulation IICA-R1. 

2.1       Ratios for Category 5 Field Studies

International travel (excluding continental United States as outlined in IICA-R1 Category 4) is educational enrichment reserved for secondary level students.


Category 5




1 supervisor for every 10 students


2.2       Qualifications and Certifications

a)    field studies outside of Canada will include a least one supervisor who is certified to provide First Aid; and

b)    field studies outside of the United States will, wherever possible, include at least one supervisor or guide who has first-hand knowledge of the customs and culture of the country being visited. 

2.3       Educator in Charge Responsibility for Volunteers 

The Educator in charge is responsible for adhering to the VBE Guidelines for Supervision of Volunteers, and for ensuring that all volunteer supervisors complete the VBE Volunteer Conduct Agreement and a Police Record Check prior to being accepted as a chaperones for international travel.   

It is required that a meeting of all supervisors, and the Principal be held to:

a)    state who is in charge and define the roles of the volunteers’

b)    communicate that supervisors are to serve as role models to students, as ambassadors for the school district and they are expected to conduct themselves accordingly;

c)    inform volunteers of appropriate supervision and leadership techniques;

d)    review that students must be supervised 24 hours per day including sleep time and unscheduled time – plans for such supervision must be made well in advance of travel;

e)    discuss consistency in the application of guidelines, rationale, responsibilities, expectations and follow-up;

f)     state that the use of alcohol by students is strictly prohibited during field studies regardless of the circumstances, the age of the students, or local laws, customs and culture;

g)    outline the expectations concerning the restricted consumption of alcohol by supervisors;

h)    prohibit the use of illegal substances by all participants;

i)      discuss the issue of smoking and provide clear expectations that will be consistently applied throughout the field study, that are consistent with Board policy;

j)      define a critical incident plan to deal with health, financial or discipline emergencies that includes a telephone tree and arrangements for two-way communication;

k)    agree on what type of behaviour will be deemed inappropriate for both students and supervisors; and

l)      agree on the consequences of inappropriate behaviour.


2.4       Meeting Of All Involved in the Extended Off-Continent Field Study 

A meeting of all involved (staff, supervisors, students and parents/guardians) in the extended field study, must be called to:

a)    discuss student behaviour, discipline and their role as ambassadors of the school district;

b)    distribute the itinerary and information on the planned activities, including site based contact information (addresses, phone numbers etc);

c)    distribute a written statement of expectation about student behaviour;

d)    distribute a written statement outlining the possible consequences and liabilities of inappropriate behaviour;

e)    discuss any potential risks and plans to minimize those risks;

f)     define how the identifiable school unit is to be maintained during travel; and

g)    communicate the actions which will be taken should a serious problem emerge in relation to health, finances or discipline. 



Before any financial contributions are accepted, parents must be notified, in writing, that should the travel have to be cancelled for any reason the district is not responsible for any costs incurred. 

Financial arrangements for staff and volunteer travel costs must be transparent, including the use of a “free” tickets and the accruing of travel benefits earned from the group’s travel. 

Funds raised by all participants (educators, students and supervisors) for an extended international field study will first be used to benefit students and secondly for the benefit of other participants.

An accounting of all funds related to an extended field study must be provided to the Principal within two weeks of completion of the travel.

Cross References: 
IICA: Field Studies; IICA-R1: Field Studies Planning and Implementation; Field Studies Resource Book; Vancouver Board of Education Guidelines for Adults Interacting with Students VBE Guidelines for Supervision of Volunteers
Adopted Date: 
Monday October 05, 2009
Revision Date: 
Jun 2016