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Field Trips, Excursions, and Activities​​

1 Policies Applicable to All Field Trips, Excursions, and Activities

The 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.​​
     

2 Assessing Risk of Certain Activities and Excursions

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.​

Generally, activities have greater-than-normal risk when:​
  • 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 n​ot 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 Risks

Occasionally, 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 Programs

Irrespective 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 Vendors

The 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 Volunteers and Volunteer Construction Work.

Be Flexible

Most 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 Plan

All field trips, excursions, and activities require an emergency plan. These plans need to be responsive to reasonably foreseeable emergencies.

Be Aware of Insurance Coverage

Archdiocesan 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.


3 Policies for International Travel With Minors

General Requirements

  • Any group traveling internationally under the sponsorship of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, or any parish or school, must have the approval of the person in charge who shall designate one participating adult as the group leader ("Leader") and a second participating adult as the assistant leader ("Assistant"). The Leader will have overall management responsibility. Should something happen to the Leader, the Assistant should be sufficiently familiar with the policies and procedures applicable to the trip to assume the Leader's responsibility if needed.

  • All trips must adhere to the policies and procedures of the Archdiocesan Administrative Handbook (handbook.la-archdiocese.org) under section 12.3.1.1 -  Policies Applicable to All Field Trips, Excursions, and Activities.  Section 12.3.1.1, contains the required release forms, medical forms, safe environment/fingerprinting requirements, and insurance requirements. Necessary forms are linked within this section.

  • Leaders should ensure all members of the group receive relevant information and training for traveling abroad, including (but not limited to) topics such as:

    • Obtaining all necessary documents (passport, visas if necessary) in a timely manner.

    • Being familiar with the itineraries, including all transportation, lodging and contact information (Leaders or travel agents must provide copies to all participants).

    • Staying safe when traveling internationally.

    • Packing, especially for first time international travelers. (Packing appropriately for weather and activities, mode of travel, etc. Poor packing can affect the group's ability to travel smoothly.)

    • Medications and prescriptions.  Members of the group who need to take medication during the trip, must consult with their physician prior to leaving, particularly if they rely upon access to particular medications or require some accommodation for their medications, and must carry with them a copy of their prescription(s) (For minors, these must be documented using forms found in section 12.3.1.1 above).

  • When a group is traveling with minors, the Leader, Assistant and chaperones have supervisory responsibility at all times during the trip.  Therefore, the Leader, Assistant and chaperones should not use alcohol, illicit or recreational drugs at any time.  Other adult participants should not be under the influence of alcohol, nor illicit or recreational drugs in the presence of minors.  Alcohol, illicit substances, and recreational drugs may never be given to minors.


Requirements for Adults Traveling in a Group With Minors

Any group traveling with minors must ensure all adults (18 and over) in the group, including other participants, clergy, parish or school staff, volunteers, chaperones and parents:

  • Are fingerprinted by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and verification of compliance is confirmed on VPIN (Volunteer and Personal Information Network).  Fingerprinting Office phone: (213) 637-7411.

  • Comply with the VIRTUS® Safe Environment Training by:

Minors must not be roomed with those 18 or over, unless they are with a parent or relative.
Copies of proof of Fingerprinting, current VIRTUS® Certificate, Guidelines for Adults, and Release of Liability must be on file with the sponsoring parish or school.

 
Requirements for Minors Under the Age Of 16

The Archdiocese strongly discourages bringing minors under 16 years of age to international events. However, if the sponsoring archdiocesan entity allows minors under the age of 16 to participate, the minor must be accompanied by a parent/guardian, or another family member (grandparent, aunt, uncle, or sibling) who is 21 years of age or older and is designated by the parent/guardian in a written, notarized document stating that the designated person has the authority to act "in loco parentis". This document is required in addition to all the other required documents. The accompanying family member/legal guardian must comply with all policies and procedures established by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.


Requirements for Minors Aged 16 to 17 Traveling Without a Parent

  • Each Leader, Assistant and chaperone traveling with the group must accept in writing that he/she will have responsibility for the minors in the group.

  • Minors traveling with the group must be informed which adult to contact if a concern arises.

  • All minors shall sign a conduct agreement, which must include an acknowledgement by the minor and his/her parent/guardian that if the minor is sent home for any breach of the conduct agreement, the parent/guardian will be responsible for any and all costs associated with the transportation home.


Minors Aged 16 to 17 Traveling With a Parent

  • If a minor is traveling with a parent or adult family member, then the parent or other family member shall assume the normal legal responsibility for that minor.

  • If a parent or other adult family member is traveling with minors as part of a larger group, the adults in the family (meaning all members 18 or older) shall abide by the Requirements For Adults Traveling In A Group With Minors.

  • If a family with minors is traveling as a family and not as a part of the official parish/school trip, the parents or other adult family member(s) shall be responsible for the minors and not the group Leaders or chaperones.


Age of Chaperones – Adult/Minor Ratio

  • Chaperones and group leaders must be at least 21 years old (preferably 25).

  • The adult/minor ratio must be at least 1 adult for every 5 minors.


Policies Related to World Youth Day

All policies stated above apply to World Youth Day, with the addition of these particular instructions:

  • Participants must be 16 by the date established by World Youth Day to be a registered pilgrim and may be registered as a pilgrim of a parish/school group if the minor is traveling as part of a registered group for the whole period of attendance at World Youth Day.

  • World Youth Day offers a variety of registration packages.  Groups with pilgrims 16-17 years old may not choose the simple accommodations package nor participate in Days in the Dioceses. These options involve the possibility of staying with local families or sharing rooming space with pilgrims from other groups.

  • Minors may be registered as Pilgrims if they are traveling with one or both parents for the whole period of attendance at World Youth Day, including Days in the Dioceses (if they are participating).