Voluntary Field Trips

J-Term / Spring Break Team and School Sponsored Travel

Risk Management Policies and Procedures
for Faculty and Coaches

If you are planning a voluntary¹ or College Sponsored² trip with students during J-Term, Spring Break or at any other time (such as pre- or post-semester), please familiarize yourself with the following risk management policies and procedures. These guidelines will help to manage the risks associated with travel and make the planning process go more smoothly. You, the trip organizer, and the College bear significant liability for losses, accidents or injuries that arise from College sponsored travel. For more detailed information see the Off Campus Travel Guide.


Travel risks are probably the predominant risk for most trips.

  • Getting to your destination/s

    Consider how you and your students are getting to your destination. Are you chartering/renting a bus? Are you meeting at one place and flying there together? Meeting at the destination?

    For College sponsored programs, it is recommended that the College provide transportation to the program and during the program. This means that students should not be expected to drive themselves and each other to the destination or during the program. It is acceptable to have a student be responsible for their air transportation to and from the destination in the US, but this should be noted in the waiver and orientation.

  • Getting around at your destination

    Know what the local conditions are where you are going. Plan your activities keeping local conditions and safety of your students in mind. Students are prohibited from driving outside of the United States. Puerto Rico is considered to be outside of the United States. As much as possible, the College should be providing local transportation.

    If you are hiring or chartering vehicles – boats, buses, air charters, etc., be sure to confirm that the company has insurance and get a certificate of insurance from their insurance agent. (Do not accept a certificate directly from the company.) Check with your local contacts to see if they have any known safety problems, and if they do, don’t use the company.

  • Renting Vehicles

    All drivers must be certified. Follow the guidelines for renting vehicles posted on this website.

  • International Travel

    Puerto Rico is international travel. No students may drive on college business outside the United States. Make sure that all your students have been informed about visas and passports; international students may have special requirements and should check with their embassies on entry into the country you are going to and re-entry to the US.

  • 15 Passenger Vans

    The use of fifteen passenger vans is strictly prohibited by College policy. If 12 Passenger vans are not available, then you must use 7 or 8 passenger vans, or transportation provided by a professional service. Plan for this in budgeting your program.

  • Travel Insurance

    Travel Accident Insurance and Travel Assist Services are provided by the College for all college sponsored travel greater than 100 miles from campus for faculty, staff and students. Familiarize yourself with the coverage, and bring brochures with you on your trip. Be sure to contact Five College Risk Management if you need to access coverage.

Certificates of Insurance

Some car rental companies or venues may require certificates of insurance. See Certificates of Insurance for instructions on having certificates sent out. Please allow at least 7 days for processing.

It is strongly recommended that waivers be used for all voluntary trips. Waivers are required for all international trips. Our waivers are designed to protect not only the College, but also you, the group leader, and all group participants from frivolous law suits and claims. Waivers are different from Informed Consent Forms: in addition to the assumption of risk and informed consent agreement, the student waives their right to recover from the college even if the college is negligent; they waive their right to sue the college; and they agree to indemnify the college if they cause harm.
It is required that you inform all participants that waivers will be required when you provide students information about the trip. Waivers must be signed as part of the registration process. Late requests for a waiver form may result in it being invalid.
Keep all signed waivers with your trip file for three years following your return from your destination, then discard. Inform the Risk Manager immediately upon return of any accidents or incidents that may have occurred during your trip; serious accidents should be reported immediately to the College.

Emergency Response Planning
Have an emergency response plan. This means, you should consider what you will do if unexpected things happen, and plan for these contingencies. The plan does not have to be complicated, but should include having a cell phone or other means of contact to call back to the College to report the circumstances and get instruction. Typical events can include:

  • A student becomes ill and needs to be taken to a local emergency room (e.g. the professor should accompany the student to the hospital, and make arrangements for them and the other students to get back to campus);

  • One of the vehicles in your group is in an accident and the outcome ranges from needing alternative transportation to serious injuries. See Auto Accidents, Emergencies/Claims.

  • Adverse weather conditions prevent the trip from returning to campus when planned, or from starting out.

Always have emergency contact information for the dean on call, and know your institution’s procedures for responding to emergencies. A roster of all students (name, campus address, contact info) should be left with the department assistant if the trip is during regular school office hours and with the dean’s office if the trip is outside of regular school office hours.

For longer trips and overseas trips, have a “second in command” with respect to emergency planning. Make sure that person knows what to do in case you are the person who is adversely affected. It is also acceptable to inform all students on the trip what the emergency response procedures are, and to provide them with emergency contact information.

Risk Management Assessment and Response Activity Planners and Leaders should:

  1. Assess safety conditions at the site, or obtain a safety evaluation. If you go to this site repeatedly, conduct safety assessments periodically. Know the area or country where you are visiting; know what geographic areas to avoid; if traveling to a foreign country, know the political climate as well. For international travel, you must check both the CDC and State Department for travel health and safety.
  2. Provide adequate adult supervision for your students. If you will be in a foreign country and local personnel will be working with students, check on their background.
  3. Inform your students before setting out on the trip. Provide safety information, both written and oral, to trip participants so that they can make informed decisions about their participation, and their behavior while on site. In particular, identify any inherent dangers associated with the trip, avoidable dangers characteristic to the locale, high crime areas, and health risks.
  4. Orient your participants before you set out or upon arrival in order to help them improve their avoidance of high-risk situations and their skill in dealing with problematic events.
  5. Warn students (and supervisors if necessary) regarding extra-curricular activities if overseas or in an unfamiliar locale, such as a large city.
  6. Monitor the local environment and provide safety updates to the participants (or advise them of resources to aid them in doing this for themselves).
  7. Take appropriate action in the event of a serious deterioration in the local safety environment – you may have to evacuate.
  8. Assist participants should a serious safety issue come to the attention of local personnel or the trip leader.
  9. Evaluate the safety issues surrounding any program events, excursions, or other services, whether arranged by you or by a third party. Ensure that safe means of transportation are provided.
  10. For long trips, get referrals for appropriate medical, legal, psychological or other professional assistance for participants experiencing difficulties when traveling overseas.

  11. Advise participants what you expect from them. Note, consumption of alcoholic beverages and the legal age follows the country you are in. Students should be strongly cautioned against drinking to excess.
  12. Advise participants that students may be dismissed from the trip and sent home at their own expense if the participant does not adhere to your guidelines for behavior. It is strongly recommended that you consult with the Dean before initiating a dismissal from a trip.

If you have any questions or concerns about your trip, please contact the Five College Risk Management for assistance. Please also contact Five College Risk Management if your trip involves unusual activities, high hazard activities or very unusual locations or requirements.

¹ Voluntary trips are distinguished from mandatory academic field trips as not being required for academic credit. International J-term courses, including those offered for credit, are considered to be voluntary.

² College sponsored trips means that the College funds all or part of the trip for the faculty member/coach and/or students.