Field trips are exciting educational opportunities for students and teachers alike. They are designed to enhance the educational experience for all students and provide the students with an opportunity to learn outside the classroom. While these trips are often informative and eye-opening experiences for many students, they require planning and special considerations, especially related to the health needs of students. Federal laws afford all students, including those with special health care needs, the right to participate in these educational experiences. According to the National Association of School Nurses’ (NASN) Position Statement, School Sponsored Trips, Role of the School Nurse, there are approximately 26.6% of children with special health needs attending school (2013). Therefore, it is evident that the school nurse is a critical partner in planning and executing safe and rewarding field trips for all students.
The most successful field trips are the result of collaboration and team planning among school administrators, teachers, school nurses, other school staff, parents and students. In addition, school districts should have clear districtwide policies and procedures that inform team planning regarding field trips. The Connecticut State Department of Education’s (CSDE) Field Trips: Guidance for School Nurses (Field Trip Guidelines) are intended to provide school nurses and school districts with information, resources and guidance needed to develop safe plans for the health care needs all students on field trips. School nurses should use these guidelines in conjunction with their individual school district policies and procedures.
The Field Trip Guidelines include definitions of school-sponsored trips, including field trips and extracurricular activities, and health related terms; applicable federal and state laws; planning and assessment considerations; suggested responsibilities for the various professionals involved; and useful checklists to assist in the planning and successful management of field trips.