Field Trip & All Off Campus Activity Guidelines

Last Updated: 11/16/2017

"Learn by Doing" educational programs, field trips can provide essential, real life contact with instructional and experiential subjects, increasing the value of the learning experience overall. It is impossible to eliminate all risks entirely. However, advanced planning can help minimize exposures. The following information is designed to be a guide to assist Cal Maritime faculty and staff in making a reasonable effort to ensure a safe educational experience for the students participating in the activity. 

Field trips include required activities outside the regularly scheduled class room/laboratory environment led by the faculty and/or university staff. Field activities include travel related to participation in university programs such as professional societies, student affairs student programs, intercollegiate athletic competitions, judging competitions, etc.

  • Activities such as observation, measurement, instruction, collecting, capturing; project activities such as building, teaching, removing; presentations, participation in conferences, competitions, etc. may be included.
  • Field trips can be single or repeated to one site or many within a course or participation in a program
  • Participants include: enrolled students (undergraduate and graduate), employees (faculty, staff, student and teaching assistants), Identified University Volunteers.
  • Participants' and Employees': parents, partners, spouses, siblings, children who are not enrolled university students or employees, (and pets) are not authorized to participate in University field trips.

Planning and preparation are essential components of field activities and the management of risks to the students, teachers, support staff and other participants. The following questions are intended to focus attention on managing common and uncommon risks related to field activities.

  • Is this field activity the best alternative for the students and the educational objective? Are there other activities and/or methods that would provide the desired learning experience with less risk?
  • Can travel time and distance be minimized to reduce risk. Can field trip time be scheduled to avoid interference with other regularly scheduled university courses.
  • Does the leader of the field trip have either direct or indirect knowledge of the specific destination, area, activities and resources to be able to guide, lead, direct and supervise the field trip and the student participation; including in a crisis and non-crisis situation?
  • Have students been notified in advance of the field trip? [Course description in the catalog and/or notification provided at first course meeting] Is/are field trips included in the approved Course Description?
  • Is there an alternative activity or assignment that student can complete for the same credit if they cannot participate in the field trip?
  • Have you determined if there are special needs of the participants and how you will accommodate those needs?
  • Have you provided a written detailed instructional and support plan for the field trip? [educational objectives, observations, activities, assignments as well as date, time, location, transportation, support services, emergencies, etc.]
  • Have you designated and defined "Field Trip Time" and "Free Time" for this activity? [students meeting you at the site?, everyone traveling together?, people responsible for their own support – food, shelter, etc.]
  • Do you have an "alternative" destination(s) and or activity(ies). Is there a designated contact point for participants to call for change in plans?
  • Have you provided written information and training for materials, equipment, activities that participants will be using related to the field trip?
  • Have you provided written information and training for REASONABLY FORSEEABLE hazards involved with activities related to the field trip? [crime, strenuous physical activities, falling hazards, dangerous animals, poisonous plants, etc.]
  • Have you informed the participants in writing of requirements for personal protective equipment [hard hat, safety glasses, long sleeves, long pants, boots, etc.] and/or advised personal supplies [sun block, sun glasses, hat, insect repellant, water, food, etc.]
  • Have you informed participants in writing of permissible conduct rules (destination, area, CSU, and Cal Maritime) and consequences for inappropriate behavior?
  • Have you provided in writing, emergency response action plans and emergency phone numbers and contacts?
  • Do you and/or other leaders and/or participants have current American Red Cross or equivalent CPR and First Aid certification?
  • Will a first aid kit with materials appropriate to level of skills of the leaders and participants be available during the field trip? Has the kit been recently inspected and restocked as necessary?

  • How will you respond to hospitalization for injury or illness; rape, sexual assault, or physical assault; crime; severe psychological problems; or civil unrest, terrorist attacks, or outbreak of war.
  • Know how to seek appropriate medical care (medical emergency) or a safe location.
  • Notify the Cal Maritime Risk Management office and your department of your location and status.
  • Travel leaders should not make direct, initial contact with family members without student's permission.
  • When possible, students should communicate with their parents when emergencies arise.
  • Do not presume that a student's parents are the listed emergency contact.
  • Travel leaders should contact their department if a student is ill or injured, even if it's not an emergency, so the department and University are not caught off guard if contacted by parents.
  • If a student is ill or injured abroad, the student should be encouraged to inform their parents, but this disclosure is ultimately up to the student.
  • Travel leaders may choose to inform emergency contacts about a potential emergency abroad without the student's express permission, if the student is unable to speak for him or herself; the student has been missing for more than 24 hours; the student is perceived to be a danger to themselves or others; or when a significant health, safety, or security incident has occurred that affects the entire program.

It is recommended that students provide their own transportation to and from field trip sites whenever possible. Alternatives are listed below in order of increasing risk to the University.

  • Commercial Transportation - contact Contracts & Procurement to arrange for buses, ships, airplanes, etc. 
  • Car pools may be organized, however: all drivers must be state employees or identified University Volunteers and must be authorized to drive vehicles on University (state) business. Use of personal vehicles on University business requires additional authorization.

CSU Executive Order 590 and A&F Policy  require the execution of a "release and hold harmless statement" by each student who participates in CSU - sponsored student air travel and/or air travel required in a CSU - affiliated program. Students traveling by air on flights not regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation are required to purchase life and personal injury insurance.

Contact Risk Management for assistance.

Voluntary field trips offered by the University shall include the execution of a University Activity Release Agreement.

The form and language has been reviewed and approved by University Legal Counsel and University Risk Management for use in University classes and program which include required out of class room activities. For example: field trips, internships, service learning, student teaching, observation, etc.. Effectively implemented, this form will briefly notify students of planned out of classroom activities; logistical issues and arrangements; identified conditions and risks; and transfer the responsibility for managing risk to the student. Additional specific information prior to the actual out of classroom activity is essential to effectively define the responsibilities of the University and the student, and must also be provided.

Specific language and general format are not to be altered without consultation with University Risk Management.

  • Copy form onto new document. (it is write protected)
  • Form should be produced on department, university letterhead (first page) additional pages must be physically attached if provided in paper form.
  • Provide course and section if a class; provide title of class or program; indicate academic term; provide name of faculty and/or program leader.
  • Provide name/title of activity.
  • Cite regulatory requirement for the activity, if any.
  • Identify if an alternative assignment is available and who to contact.
  • Provide specific: start and end Dates, Times, Destination, Activity.
  • Indicate if there are fees and expenses that the student will be required to pay.
  • Indicate if: transportation, lodging, food, equipment, etc., are required and if the student or the University is responsible for services.
  • Indicate expected environmental conditions for both travel and destination.
  • Identify any specific risks, in addition to bodily injury, damage to property, liability to others and or damage to property of others.
  • Completed form is to be provided to students on their first day of class.
  • Student is to print their name, sign and date the form and return to faculty/leader who will establish a file within the department where the documents shall remain until the fourth academic year following the specific class or program.
  • If a student refuses to sign the form, print their name on the form and indicate in the signature area that they received a copy, date the form and retain.

Through developing detailed travel plans in advance risks can be mitigated. In order to ensure the health and safety of participating faculty, staff, and students, travel coordinators shall conduct a hazard assessment to identify and address the risks associated with travel to foreign countries in advance, especially when traveling to remote areas.

This section serves as an at a glance resource guide that can be used by departments to aid with planning and the coordination of travel to foreign countries.

Travel Check list:

The travel planning process should include the identification of potential health and security risks involved in travel to foreign countries, the measures that can be taken to avoid them, and advance planning on how to respond to emergencies if and when they occur.

Identify potential travel risks and security risks, how to reduce or avoid them, and how to respond to emergencies when they occur.

  • Agree on an emergency communications plan; consider establishing a "buddy system."
  • Agree on guidelines for handling emergencies and contacting parents and family members.
  • Make certain that all participants register for travel insurance.
  • Know how to contact local law enforcement authorities.
  • Transportation from one site to another.
  • Know how to contact the local US Embassy/Consulate.

Use online Travel resources to get real-time intelligence, notices, and alerts about political unrest, natural disasters, and health warnings as well as information about required immunizations, entry/exit, safety and security, transportation, weather, communications.

  • Review the California State University Risk Management (CSURMA)  High Hazard & War Risk Country list

  • Review State Department information sheets and travel warnings and discuss with participants to identify potential travel risks and emergencies that may arise.

  • Review the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for vaccinations and other health hazards associated with the proposed country for travel.

What is STEP?

  • The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate

Benefits of Enrolling in STEP

  • Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
  • Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
  • Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency

Quick Link:

Cal Maritime utilizes collaborative approach to assist and coordinate emergency action as required, including notifying the State Department or local authorities.  This includes, but is not limited to the utilization of Cal Maritime Police 24/7 dispatch, the Travel Insurance provider and Cal Maritime Risk Management.

Contact Information

  • Departments can ask participants to provide information on the Emergency Information & Contacts form about who should be contacted in the event of an emergency and who their insurance carrier is.
  • The form also offers the participant the opportunity to advise the trip organizers of any allergies, dietary restrictions, or other conditions they have and any medications they may be required to take. It is important to review this information and to understand what, if anything, it will require of the employees leading the activity. If travel is to remote areas where certain vaccinations or immunizations are advisable, departments can ask the participant to show proof that they have gotten them. All this information is confidential and should only be shared with people who have a need to know.
  • The employee leading the trip should take the Emergency Information & Contacts form with them in case a participant is injured. If the completed Emergency Information & Contacts form is not needed, the campus department should destroy it when the trip is over. If the completed Emergency Information & Contacts form is used for one reason or another, it should be retained for three years after the trip is over. If the department has had to rely on the form, the hard copy must be retained.

Prior to departure it may be useful to conduct an orientation meeting with attendance required for all participants. Review administrative matters and important information: contacts and addresses, including consulate contacts, clothing, transportation, lodging, local customs, money, personal health and safety, required documents, use of credit, telephones, communications, medical issues, required vaccinations, etc. Provide information specific to living in the destination country. Provide materials such as maps, practical living information, guidebooks and handbooks, links to relevant websites, including the State Department website.