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Proposed student air travel student ban has them arguing in Parksville

Some Qualicum district students believe motion takes away too much from experience at school

Students, parents and teachers have weighed in on a controversial school district motion — not supporting school field trips that involve out of province travel because of carbon emissions.

The motion was initially brought forward in late September by Qualicum School District trustee Barry Kurland, and was then opened for discussion at an education committee of the whole meeting Tuesday at Kwalikum Secondary School. It pertains specifically to field trips requiring off-continent or out-of-province travel.

Overall, the sentiment was schools want to do more to reduce their environmental impact, but they don’t feel this is the way to do it. Students brought up past experiences travelling, explaining that they felt their merit outweighed the negative affect on the climate. The option of buying carbon offsets to balance the pollutants from planes and buses was brought up by students and teachers.

READ MORE: Qualicum school district considers eliminating field trips requiring air travel

Kurland said although he understands why students feel this way, a difficult conversation is necessary to start making some moves towards real climate action.

“I’m saying that we now as a society need to make these choices,” he said.

Tim Daniel, a physics and robotics teacher at KSS, emphasized climate, rather than potential missed experience that would come with the motion. Although he said he understands the student’s concerns, he said the conversation needs to focus on what the repercussions actually are.

“There’s no question that these trips are valuable, but we have to reconcile these trips,” Daniel said. “That’s the message from science and I don’t think we can afford to ignore the science much longer.”

Dan Craven, a band and video media art teacher at KSS, said although it’s possible to do category four and five field trips without sanction from the board, doing it independently means a teacher taking on too much liability.

“I would not do it and I don’t know anyone who would do that,” Craven said.

Ultimately, there was a recommendation to the board that a climate crisis action committee should be formed — one that would look at other potential changes that could minimize the district’s ecological footprint.

The vote for the motion is on Oct. 22 at the regular school board meeting.

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