In response to the uncertainty surrounding the Trump administration's policies regarding entry into the United States, school boards and other organizations across Canada are instituting their own ban on U.S.-bound trips.
On Thursday, March 23, 2017, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) in Ontario announced it will not plan any future trips to the United States until there is more clarity around U.S. border policy.
While Canada is not listed in the travel bans instituted by the Trump administration, the TDSB expressed concern that students with appropriate documentation and status in Canada could face trouble because of their, or their parents', country of origin.
The TDSB is not the first school board to institute a ban. School boards in other parts of the Canada— including Vancouver, British Columbia; Winnipeg, Manitoba; and southwestern Ontario—have cancelled U.S.-bound trips for students.
In a notice to its members on March 24, OMCA noted that the TDSB decision is particularly troubling because, as it is the largest school board in Canada, other school boards will likely follow suit.
The 24 existing trips the TDSB has planned will go ahead as booked. However, if one student with proper documentation is denied entry, the trip will be cancelled and the entire group will return to Toronto. Additionally, these existing trips will be cancelled immediately if the U.S. enacts any rules that would bar certain students from crossing the border.
These decisions are based on the principle that if one or more students who have proper documentation and legal status in Canada are going to be denied admission to the U.S., the policy effectively bans all students.
OMCA staff noted that until the travel ban issue is resolved, the travel industry will continue to face challenges when booking and organizing school trips to the U.S. OMCA, however, will continue to work with tour operators, coach operators and suppliers in both Canada and the U.S. to manage these challenges.