Shutdown may mean fewer field trips, other impacts at Harford schools

Government employees and local businesses may not be the only ones affected by Tuesday's federal government shutdown. Students at some Harford County schools may lose the most fun part of their educational enrichment — field trips to Washington, D.C., national landmarks and other places owned by the federal government.

A shutdown could cause upcoming field trips to be canceled, Teri Kranefeld, manager of communications for Harford County Public Schools, said; however, students won't be impacted immediately. The next trip to the nation's capital isn't scheduled until Oct. 14.


"If a federal government shutdown were to occur, those field trips would be canceled or postponed," Kranefeld said in an e-mail.

Kranefeld said the government shutdown could also delay the reimbursement of federal grants and funding to the school system. "However, we must continue to provide those programs and services regardless of a delay in reimbursement," Kranefeld said.

Students at some private and independent schools in Harford could also be affected.

The John Carroll School in Bel Air annually hosts a group of German high school exchange students, who are scheduled to take a tour of Washington, D.C., on Oct. 5. Administrators at the school fear that trip may be cut.

"There are a few places these students want to see when they come to the United States – one of those places is D.C., which they see as the core to our country," John Carroll School spokesperson Laura Lang said Friday. "It's just a shame that every few months we get to this point, but who is it really hurting – these kids."

John Carroll has hosted an exchange program for more than 25 years, bringing a handful of German students to America for two weeks. During their trip, the exchange students visit the White House, the Capitol, Smithsonian Institution and other District-area attractions.

"The students pay for this trip to D.C. as a part of the exchange," Lange said. "If the government shuts down, the trip will be canceled for these 20 students."

Elementary and middle school students at Harford Day School in Bel Air take several trips to Washington, D.C., during the school year to complement what they are learning in the classroom. Most recently, the school's fifth-grade students took a trip to the National Gallery of Art and the Botanical Gardens on Sept. 25.

"It's fortunate we had that trip and it happened already," Susan G. Harris, head of school at Harford Day, said. "We happen to have a very active field trip program and we take advantage of our close location to D.C. and Philadelphia."

Harford Day's field trip program annually takes trips to federal government supported sites including the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo.

"Certainly this government shutdown could impact us and how we use field trips to enhance our curriculum," Harris said. "We hope everything will be back to normal by the time our first-graders take their trip to the National Zoo in the spring."