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Toronto school board suspending U.S. travel over border issues

The Canadian side of the Canada-U.S border crossing, where refugees make their way into the province, in Emerson, Manitoba.

LYLE STAFFORD/REUTERS

Canada's largest school board says it will stop booking trips to the United States indefinitely in light of the uncertainty surrounding restrictions at the border.

The Toronto District School Board, which serves about 245,000 public school students, says it made the "difficult decision" because it believes students "should not be placed into these situations of potentially being turned away at the border."

The board says that for now, it will move forward with the 24 U.S. trips that have already been approved, but says the entire group will turn back if any students with appropriate documentation are turned away.

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It also says those trips will be cancelled and refunded if the U.S. enacts any rules that would bar certain students from crossing the border.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced new travel restrictions earlier this month that would affect who can enter the country, but those changes have been on hold as they face several court challenges.

The school board says it will continue to monitor the situation and may revisit its decision if it receives new information.

"It is my hope that our students, staff and parents will understand and support this difficult decision," John Malloy, the board's director of education, said in a statement.

"We feel it strikes a balance between our equity and inclusion commitments as a school board, while not cancelling already-approved trips for which a financial loss would be incurred."

Similar debates have played out in a number of school districts across Canada following the first executive order issued by Trump that imposed travel restrictions to citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.

A Winnipeg junior high school cancelled a trip by its track team to Minnesota in January because it wasn't certain all students would be able to cross the border.

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The Greater Essex County School Board in southwestern Ontario decided in February to cancel a handful of trips over concerns of safety and equity, while districts in southern Vancouver Island debated whether to ban all U.S. travel or handle each trip on a case-by-case basis.

Girl Guides of Canada also said earlier this month that it would not approve new travel to the U.S.

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