12.3.1 Field Trips, Excursions, and Activities188.8.131.52 Policies Applicable to All Field Trips, Excursions, and ActivitiesThe policies listed below apply to all excursions, including but not limited to trips for
parish religious education,
youth ministry and youth groups, traditional class field trips, travel for specific group events (e.g., choir, adult retreats and outings, science fairs, and academic decathlon), graduation and other celebratory trips,
athletic games and practices, and certain ministerial and extracurricular activities held at locations. Contracts for field trips, excursions, and activities must follow the rules on
signing authority.Locations may, at their option, plan trips and activities for one or more days, including overnight field trips, retreats, and other excursions. All excursions, whether day or overnight, must comply with the following requirements:
The excursion must be approved in advance by the person in charge or, if cosponsored or sponsored by an outside entity, by the regional bishop's office or the
Department of Catholic Schools, as applicable.
Traditional field trips for elementary school and high school classes must have specific educational goals for students.
For excursions outside a 100-mile radius of the location, in which the participants are students or youth, the person in charge should consider the budgetary constraints of parents/guardians, the excursion's financial impact on other fund-raising activities, and class work that students will miss.
The person in charge should have a detailed itinerary of any field trip or excursion that involves travel and hotel accommodations, including contact information for all transportation and lodging vendors, coordinators, and sponsors. Verify the licensing and Better Business Bureau ratings of travel agencies, especially those that operate only online.
On field trips, excursions, or activities with participants who are minors, the supervising adult must have in his or her possession a signed and dated Student and Youth Activity Permission Form (English version and Spanish version) for each minor.
On field trips, excursions, or activities with participants who are minors who take medication, the supervising adult must have in his or her possession a signed and dated
Medication Authorization and Permission Form for each minor who takes
medication. During the excursion, the supervising adult also must have any necessary medications in his or her possession.
All participants—adults and minors—must have appropriate identification and, as necessary, travel documents.
All chaperones and any vendors who both provide the trip and have contact with minors must follow archdiocesan safe environment policies, including
fingerprinting requirements and background checks. No chaperone should ever be alone with a minor who is not his or her own child.
The supervising adult or adult group leader must have immediate access to a
first aid kit. First aid kits must be in all vehicles that transport participants to and from activities.
In any area where there may be poisonous snakes, the group must have a
snake bite kit.
Vehicles used to transport participants must adhere to the rules on transportation for parishes and schools set forth in
Transportation for Parishes and Schools.
The supervising adult on field trips, excursions, or activities involving minors must have immediate access to
student emergency information.
At least one adult chaperone for field trips, excursions, or activities involving minors shall be in possession of a cell phone.
Chaperones driving minors should be at least 25 years old. Non-driving chaperones should be at least 21 years old.
Both male and female chaperones must supervise coed events.
There should be at least two chaperones on every trip and two chaperones of each sex on every coed trip, so that no chaperone is alone with a minor. The number of chaperones who must be present to supervise minors should be decided on a case-by-case basis, giving consideration to the age of the participants and the nature of the activity. Locations with any questions should contact the
Department of Catholic Schools or the
Office of Religious Education.
Clergy/staff members/faculty/volunteers who supervise minors or young adults, or who are group leaders of parish- or school-sponsored activities, may not be under the influence of alcohol or any substance that can cause impairment and may not offer alcohol or any controlled substance (except
medication that is prescribed for a minor or young adult) to anyone under age 21.
Adult participants should fill out and sign the Adult Consent and Release Form.
All activities present some degree of risk. Locations need to identify and evaluate the risks presented by their activities and, when necessary, take extra precautions or avoid certain activities that present greater-than-normal risk. Each location should be aware of which activities may involve additional risk and seek assistance if there is any question in this regard.
Participants are exposed to potentially significant risk of bodily injury.
Property damage can be extensive.
The location has no previous experience with the activity.
The activity is not typical to the location's operations.
The activity requires a license or other certification for operations.
It is not possible to list every activity that may expose locations to greater-than-normal risk. Locations should seek the assistance of the appropriate archdiocesan department before engaging in activities that may involve greater-than-normal risk and locations should use common sense at all times. See the basic risk management strategies below.
Seek Guidance Early in the Planning Process If a location is considering any activity or excursion that may involve greater-than-normal risk, the person in charge should seek guidance from the appropriate archdiocesan department early in the planning process. Early contact will allow for a determination if the event is, in fact, risky, and if so, provide time to assess options.Avoid Taking on Outside RisksOccasionally, a location may be asked to collaborate on or cosponsor an activity with another organization.If a location is collaborating with an outside entity for such an activity or program, it is important that the location clearly communicates to the participants, as well as parents/guardians of minors participating, that the activity is not sponsored by the location or the archdiocese and that the location assumes no responsibility for the activity. For example, a location may host a vision or high blood pressure clinic operated by licensed and insured persons/entities, but the location must inform the participants that the outside persons/entities, and not the location, are responsible for any consequences of participation in the clinic. (See
Use of Archdiocesan Facilities.) Similarly, if, for example, certain activities or trips are organized and coordinated by outside travel groups, participants and their parents/guardians must be informed that the outside entities, and not the location, are responsible for any consequences of participation.Obtain Informed Consent and Follow Safe Environment ProgramsIrrespective of the degree of risk presented by an activity, the location needs to make sure that all program participants and parents/guardians of all participants under the age of 18 are fully aware of the nature of the proposed activity, including the mode of
transportation, if any. Parents/guardians must sign standard permission slips and medical releases for all school students regardless of age and all participants under the age of 18; see the Student and Youth Activity Permission Form (English version and Spanish version) and the Medication Authorization and Permission Form. No exceptions are allowed.Locations must adhere to archdiocesan
safe environment programs.Always Use Qualified, Insured Contractors and VendorsThe use of experienced outside entities and vendors to provide services or sponsor activities can reduce the risk of an activity to the location by transferring some of the liability and
insurance responsibility to the contractor.
Contractors should not be used, however, as a justification to engage in activities with a greater-than-normal degree of risk. See also
Volunteer Construction Work.Be FlexibleMost activities that locations engage in do not exceed a normal degree of risk. Advance planning (especially for youth activities) and flexibility when selecting prospective activities can reduce frustration and allow the location to meet its objectives while insulating it from an unacceptable level of risk.Have an Emergency PlanAll field trips, excursions, and activities require an
emergency plan. These plans need to be responsive to reasonably foreseeable emergencies.Be Aware of Insurance CoverageArchdiocesan liability insurance generally covers all locations, employees, and
volunteers in the event of a loss, an injury, or a claim by a participant that is caused by the alleged negligence of the location, employee, or volunteer.Myers-Stevens & Toohey & Co. insurance, which is provided by the location to students, including religious education students, covers participants with no-fault, supplemental medical insurance in case of an accident. See
Student Accident Insurance. Generally, Myers-Stevens & Toohey & Co. coverage does not cover participants when they are not actively supervised (i.e., during the night), unless the location has purchased additional coverage.Employees who are injured in the course and scope of employment may make a claim for
workers' compensation benefits.Adult participants and
volunteers who are injured are not covered by any archdiocesan medical insurance programs. They must look to their own insurance policies to cover medical expenses for their own injuries, and/or they can file a claim against the location in the event that the location is at fault for the injury.If you have questions, please contact the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Risk Management Hotline at 1-800-877-9300, extension 8610.