Canada’s largest school board will not approve any new student trips to the United States in the wake of controversial travel restrictions proposed by President Donald Trump.
However, 25 trips involving about 900 Toronto District School Board students that are already scheduled for this spring will go ahead as planned unless circumstances change, TDSB education director John Malloy wrote in a letter to principals Thursday.
Given the uncertainty over the proposed travel restrictions, “we strongly believe that our students should not be placed into these situations of potentially being turned away at the border,” Malloy said.
The board’s plan — approved unanimously by trustees at a board meeting late Wednesday night — was to strike a balance between ensuring safety and inclusion for students, without causing financial loss and disappointment by cancelling the spring trips kids had planned and fundraised for over many months.
Ikran Jama, 17, says the decision is good news for her and fellow students at York Memorial Collegiate who have been planning a four-day trip to New York City since last September.
“Students have worked so hard for this,” says the Grade 12 student, adding they have been selling cookies and popcorn, and holding concerts to raise money for the May visit, which will include giving a musical performance at a retirement home.
Jama’s parents are from Somalia — one of the six Muslim-majority countries whose citizens could be refused entry to the U.S. if Trump’s proposed travel restrictions are put in place.
She and many of her friends whose families immigrated from the six countries affected are nervous about what will happen when the bus stops at the border, even though they have Canadian passports, she says.
But hearing that the school board has a plan in place helps, she added.