Field Trip Management for Special Needs Students
published on October 31, 2014 by Sonia Mastros
Whenever you take students anywhere on a bus, you're handling some of the most precious cargo that can ever be on our roads. Obviously, the safety of students should always be top priority. However, things get more complex when dealing with special needs students. Your buses and bus systems have to be ready for the challenges they may present, while still ensuring every student gets there and back safely.
We have a few suggestions for helping ensure your field trips with special needs students go as smoothly and swiftly as possible.
Keeping Special Needs Students Safe On A Field Trip
1 – Know Their Needs Ahead Of Time
A student information database integrated into your bus routing program will ensure the bus drivers and other adults always know exactly who is going on a trip, and what their needs will be. There shouldn't be any worry that, say, a student with known insect allergies could be caught without an epi-pen around. A comprehensive student database helps ensure their needs will be met.
2 – Bring Extra Adults
While there's no law saying that there should be a 1:1 ratio of special needs students to adults, we strongly suggest having an extra minder along for any student who might have special needs beyond the regular student population. This also helps ensure they all stay on-track, with the group, and don't wander off.
3 – Consider Religious Or Other Dietary Needs
Do any of your students have religious / ethical dietary restrictions or known food allergies? That's also vital information to keep in your student database, because it ensures you'll be able to provide for them during lunch or snack time.
4 – Call Ahead To Verify Suitability For Special Needs Students
If you can't visit the field trip location yourself ahead of time, call ahead and ensure they have all the on-site facilities your special needs students might require, such as wheelchair ramps or easy bathroom access. Be wary of planning a trip to any location which cannot support all the students going.
Similarly, research health care facilities in the area and know their locations. If an accident occurs, know where to go.
Field trips are an excellent learning activity, and they can usually accommodate any of your special needs students with a little planning. Utilize the technology options at your disposal to ensure safe, productive field trips every time.