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    February 2019

    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 and should be reviewed during trip planning. 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 to participate.
    • 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.
    • Consider setting a minimum age for volunteer chaperones, such as 21, to ensure responsible behavior.
    • To reduce distractions, limit the ability of volunteer chaperones to bring children not involved in the trip. 

    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. The ratio may be affected by an Individualized Education Program applicable to the student.

    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.


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