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    June 2012

    Determining Chaperone-to-Student Ratios for Trips

    Chaperones on K-12 student trips can help prevent students from wandering off, control student behavior, and provide back-up during emergencies. Some state or local laws or venues set minimum chaperone-to-student ratios. When ratios are not mandated, institutions should consider the trip's risk and duration, distance traveled, and participants’ ages in determining the appropriate number of chaperones.

    Best Practices

    • Each trip should have at least two chaperones; larger groups may require more.
    • If a chaperone becomes sick or unavailable during an emergency, another chaperone should be available.
    • If a trip is co-educational, there should be a chaperone of each gender.
    • At least one chaperone should be a school employee, such as a teacher, coach, or administrator. This person is responsible for following the school’s policies and procedures and notifying school contacts in an emergency.

    Determining Ratios

    As a general rule, logistically complex trips require higher chaperone-to-student ratios, and schools may want to exceed their standard practices or legal minimums. For example:

    • Overnight trips may require increased supervision to handle sleeping arrangements, coordinate meals, disperse medicine, and oversee behavior. In addition, the increased risks associated with longer trips may require additional chaperones.
    • International travel requires more adults to organize trip logistics, manage student health problems, and respond to emergencies. For more information, see Ask UE: Minors on Study Abroad Trips.
    • Physically challenging trips and inherently risky activities can increase potential for injuries.
    • Use of public transportation or facilities increases the chances that students will become separated from the group or come into contact with undesirable strangers.
    • Students with disabilities may require additional chaperones for assistance with mobility or closer supervision if the student has cognitive disabilities.

    If a volunteer chaperone will have unsupervised access to children, schools are urged to conduct background checks before the trip. See UE’s Background Checks at Independent Schools for more information.

    Resources

    Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Policy and Audit Guide for Protecting Children

    Independent School News: Managing Volunteers to Prevent Sexual Abuse in Schools

    Public School News: Managing Volunteers to Prevent Sexual Abuse in Schools

    American Camp Association
    ACA Standards that Relate to Staff Screening, Supervision, and Training

    Sample School Policies

    Chicago Public Schools Policy Manual
    Student Travel

    Emery County School District
    Field Trips and Excursions

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