Cancelled field trips impact businesses, community agencies
LONDON, ONT. -- The labour standoff between teachers and the province isn’t just affecting students and parents.
The cancelling of school field trips is impacting a number of local businesses and community agencies.
On Friday Circle 'R' Ranch experienced something that’s been missing on most weekdays; the sound of children having fun.
Those students were taking part in a day camp on a Professional Activity (PA) Day for elementary schools. But it's been very quiet of late, with the daily flow of students through the Circle 'R' gates on hold after school boards cancelled all field trips.
The boards took that step after teachers launched a work-to-rule campaign.
"These field trips have just, all of a sudden, stopped so it has affected our business model."
Joan Russell, a Circle 'R' senior leadership team member, says during much of the school year buses coming through the gates are an almost daily occurrence.
But now there's no telling when those field trips will resume, "Lots of unknowns and you, sort of, feel like your hands are tied because it is a bit of just waiting and watching."
Curator of Education Steve Mavers says it’s the same story for Museum London.
"I know, for us, even our staff here at the museum, we miss hearing those little voices in the building."
Mavers says field trips bring in about 8,000 kids every year, from kindergarten to Grade 12.
"January, for instance, was quite a busy month. We had a lot of booked field trips and unfortunately they had to be cancelled. So we're probably down about 500 students that we'd normally see in the museum this month alone."
Since the students can't come to the museum, the museum is going to the students. Mavers says next month staff will take an art outreach program into schools.
“We’re starting a program called Making Art, Creating Community. We usually do that here on site and we have an artist that works with kids over the course of three weeks. About 150 children are involved. Normally it’s here but we’re going to go into the classroom."
Both Mavers and Russell believe they offer something that students simply can't get in a class.
For the museum, it's giving students a connection with creativity, both by seeing artworks in their various forms and by making their own art. Russell says, for the Circle 'R,' it's a connection with the environment.
"That opportunity to be outside and be in nature where some children never get that."
And Russell worries that even if an agreement is reached field trips will still be lost.
"I should be busy talking to teachers and booking future field trips, not only for the now but for our March and April and May programs."
She and Mavers hope parents will look at where planned school field trips were heading and take the opportunity to make it a shared experience with their child.