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Canada Ontario school board cancels U.S. trips due to ‘safety and equity’ concerns

Board trustee Clara Howitt says though Trump’s ban is not currently in effect, the board feels things are still too uncertain.

OliverHuitson/Getty Images/iStockphoto

A school board in southwestern Ontario says it has cancelled a handful of school trips to the United States due to "safety and equity" concerns.

Greater Essex County District School Board superintendent Clara Howitt said Sunday that the decision has affected trips to the U.S. that were scheduled for February, as well as a trip to Washington, D.C. in April.

Howitt said the April trip was cancelled because it would have coincided with a march on Washington that is expected to bring hundreds of thousands of people to the U.S. capital.

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She said the board, which covers Windsor, Ont., and the surrounding area, was worried about students' safety because of the size of the rally.

The February trips, she said, were cancelled because of concerns about equity.

While an executive order put in place by U.S. President Donald Trump banning travel from citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries is not currently in effect — and it didn't affect citizens and permanent residents of Canada when it was being enforced — Howitt said the board feels things are still too uncertain.

The board is being cautious because school trips have been affected before, Howitt said.

"There were buses detained for a significant period of time, and students turned away. That was shortly after 9/11," she said. "So we've been in this circumstance before."

She said the board is trying to prevent that from happening again.

Howitt said the cancellations are just an "interim" measure, and the board will re-evaluate going forward. She didn't say when that would be.

Editor's note: The Canadian Press erroneously reported in a Feb. 12 story about cancelled school trips to the U.S. that Clara Howitt is a trustee at the Greater Essex County District School Board. In fact, Howitt is a superintendent.

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