By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Field trips subject to concerns about coronavirus

McMinnville students who’ve been planning to go on field trips to Germany and U.S. destinations may have to wait until concerns about coronavirus have eased.

McMinnville School Board members decided Monday night to delay approving field trips, including a couple scheduled for April. They will take another look at the status of coronavirus cases and travel at their April 14 meeting.

Thursday night, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced that school field trips, along with large public gatherings, would be canceled until April 8. None of the trips discussed by the school board would have taken place before that date.

The school board must give approval for any trip that will take students out of town overnight, to another state or to another country. Usually, this is routine.

This year, with worldwide concern about the growing coronavirus pandemic, and some countries banning travel, Superintendent Maryalice Russell recommended waiting until closer to the scheduled times of the field trips. That will allow the district to have the most up-to-date information, she said.

In the case of overseas trips, she said, the district also is concerned about students being quarantined in another country and not having acceptable contact with their families.

One field trip the board will review in April is the popular German American Partnership Program.

McMinnville High School students planned to spend more than three weeks in Frankfurt, Heidelburg and other German cities in June. They were to attend school and visit museums and historical sites. Part of their stay will be in the homes of German families.

Germany has confirmed more than 1,100 cases of coronavirus, but just two deaths, a result that experts credited to rapid testing, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

McMinnville students are to host their counterparts from Germany, who are to arrive March 30 and attend classes at Mac High during their stay. Russell said the high school will gladly accept the travelers, as long as they are cleared to travel to the U.S.

They may not be: President Donald Trump on Thursday issued a ban on travelers arriving from Europe.

German teacher Christine Walker said the biennial trip gives students a “realistic experience” in foreign language, encourages other Mac High students to study German, teaches them about the world and about celebrating the differences in people, and brings “knowledge and wisdom back to McMinnville to make a positive impact.”

Another planned field trip for which the board delayed consideration would take McMinnville robotics competitors to the world championships in Houston, Texas, in April. By the next board meeting, Russell said, the board will know whether the tournament will still take place.

Russell also noted that Mac High band director David Barton had proposed a trip to Fairfield and Vacaville, California, but now plans to change the proposed destination because of coronavirus concerns. The board will see a revised proposal in April.

Board members on Monday approved Sue Buel Elementary School’s overnight trip to outdoor school at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s Camp Meriwether in Cloverdale from April 1 to 3.

Teachers are trying to change the date to May, but the trip will go ahead in April if that’s not possible, Russell said. OMSI and school staff members said they would observe health officials’ recommendations for cleaning the facility, which is an hour away.

The board earlier had approved Columbus Elementary School’s outdoor school trip for late May. Russell said Grandhaven Elementary may apply at the April meeting for a similar field trip.


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