Through an informal poll, Backstory recently asked educators about their field trip plans for next school year. The question was a simple one: “Will your students take field trips in FY22?” Here's what we learned from the 37 respondents.
There’s good news for museums and other cultural sites. Two thirds of respondents expect to take their students on field trips in FY22. About half of those will jump in with both feet, taking the same number of field trips that they did in FY19. The other half will dip their toes, reducing field trips from FY19 numbers but getting back in the pool.
Though the survey offered some pre-fab responses, the write-ins are informative. They accounted for 27% of responses. Almost 100% of that 27% (put another way, 24% of total responses) were some variation of “we just don’t know.” Write-in respondents cited lack of a clear directives from their board of education, the state, or the CDC.
What are the actionable take-aways? Two seem obvious:
First, there’s still a need for virtual field trips. A small number of respondents, about 3 percent overall, will only seek out virtual field trips in FY22. But combined with the toe-dippers slightly over a third of respondents are arguably open to virtual field trips. Don’t stop producing and marketing these valuable resources.
Second, educators are looking for clear directives from leadership and so far they’re just not getting them. State and local boards and administrators need to issue guidelines on field trips. No doubt some educators will press the issue by putting in for field trips and forcing responses from their boards. But many just won’t bother until they know for sure their efforts have a chance for approval.
So, this is where cultural site admins can advocate for educators and themselves.
Let educators know that you’re open for business and that most of their colleagues do expect to take field trips. Tell them about safety measures you've taken. Help willing teachers to organize field trips in anticipation of eventual policy clarifications.
Inform state and municipal school school boards, chambers of commerce, mayors and city councils, governors and state legislators on the importance of field trips not just to student learning but to your mission and bottom line. Again, tell them about the safety measures you've taken.
Encourage these leaders to issue actionable message to teachers and principals. Many educators need to hear “You can take field trips!!”