Qualicum school district trustee Barry Kurland has asked his colleagues to consider not supporting future field trips involving air travel.
Kurland brought a motion forward Tuesday that he called “the most obvious thing to do” given current worldwide dicussion on climate change. He gave an impassioned plea at the school board’s monthly meeting, saying people who are writing policy and laws need to start acting because it is their job to make a change.
The official motion reads, “that the school board of SD69 (Qualicum), will not condone or sanction long distance, category 4 and 5 (from the SD69 policy 5020) field trips.” Such field trips are ones requiring off-continent or out-of-province travel.
Kurland mentioned Greta Thurnberg as a catalyst for his idea. Thurnberg, along with other young climate change activists such as Anishinaabe-kwe Autumn Peltier of Ontario’s Wikwemikong First Nation, are addressing the United Nations at this week’s Climate Action Summit in New York.
The entire school district would be affected if the motion goes forward, but a Kwalikum Secondary School trip to Japan, planned for the spring of 2020, will happen regardless of the motion passing.
If the motion were to pass, a teacher could still technically take students on a category 4 or 5 trip, but they would not be acting as an employee of the school district.
Other trustees were generally supportive, but wanted to include students and parents in the conversation before moving forward. Dr. Kevin Elder, superintendent of schools, said “I respectfully suggest that we might want to consider how to broaden the conversation.”
The motion was postponed and referred to the next education committee of the whole meeting on Oct. 15, as a priority item. Parents and students have an opportunity to get involved in the conversation before the motion is brought back to the board.
Kurland said the point of the motion would be to empower students.
“It must be confusing for a young student to care so much about the earth, to march for action and then have modeled for them a trip to some place in the world as a curricular enhancement,” Kurland said.