Student Travel: Developing a Risk Assessment Tool
Student travel is often conducted without the same administrative controls as other school activities. Pressures from staff, students and parents as well as existing school traditions make oversight difficult. Overnight trips, foreign trips and service-related travel are becoming more popular and thus there is a need to develop a risk assessment protocol to evaluate proposals and plans for student travel.
This PRIMA 2016 session was presented by Robert Bambino, Wright Risk Management, LLC and Michael S. Foulke, Munich Reinsurance America, Inc.
Concerns about school and student travel are due to many factors with the biggest being terrorism, civil unrest and the zika virus. Therefore, it is critical to carefully assess any travel-related risks and develop appropriate risk control measures for student travel.
Five major areas of risk for schools are financial, catastrophic, operational, reputational and accidental (the largest exposure).
Outside of student accidents associated with school travel, incidents can have very negative results including staff and/or students discipline, arrests, media attention, resignations and litigations.
When arranging school travel, make sure to ask if the travel is school-sponsored and if there is a school policy for travel. Also find out school tradition and history regarding such travel.
With foreign travel, assess the political climate, review terrorism data and alerts and warnings. Check the U.S. Department of State Resources.
It is critical that school sponsorship of student travel should not be ambiguous! Lack of clarity creates liability.
Extreme sports and other activities on school trips are also areas for concern. It is critical to give all students/participants an opportunity to opt-out on these activities! Also, look at guide certifications, licenses, contracts, etc. and give detailed descriptions of activity in the parental permission form. Enforce the use of protective equipment, match the student to the activity and supervise!
Chaperoning also needs to be considered with school travel. With chaperones, ask why the person wants to be a chaperone. Get formal board approval and conduct chaperone training. Explain how to handle student violations and, if driving, get a DMV check.
Prior to any school travel, make sure these occur:
- Set a mandatory meeting with all parties
- Get permission slips/waivers
- Discuss baggage checks
- Discuss overnight arrangements
- Plan for emergencies
- Arrange for all communications
Also, look at insurance policies. Review your CGL and other policies and check to see how employees may be defined as insureds and also what “volunteer” means. See what covers such things as worldwide coverages, rental vehicles, equipment, student accidents, etc. Also look for exclusions in policies.
Building a risk management tool is important when planning for school travel. The speaker showed a Student Trip Evaluation tool that he developed that includes questions where responses result in scores or grades that will help you determine if you should go forward with the travel. These questions cover the areas of the general aspects of the trip, preparation, insurance and those that apply directly to students and chaperones.