School cancel trips amid terror fears

In light of the heightened risk level of terrorist attacks, school officials in Prince William and Stafford counties, Manassas and Manassas Park placed restrictions on field trips going to the Washington, D.C., area.

The decision comes after the United States Department of Homeland Security raised the nation’s risk of terrorist attacks on Tuesday from Code Yellow to Orange.

Manassas school officials have taken further precautions.

Manassas schools are placed on a modified/limited lockdown status, according to a letter to parents from school Superintendent Chip Zullinger.

In the past, when the schools were under the status, the doors to the buildings remained locked and students stayed indoors for all activities.

Field trips out of the local area are canceled until further notice. This includes trips to Washington, D.C. School building administrators will be reviewing the status of after-school activities. All instructional programs will remain on schedule, according to the letter.

Prince William school officials canceled trips going to Washington, D.C. and New York City areas through May 30. The decision was made Wednesday, said Superintendent Edward L. Kelly.

Kelly was not aware of any field trip requests to leave the country, he said.

“We would probably be hesitant to go out of the country,” Kelly said in an interview Thursday.

Once the level was heightened, Manassas Park Schools restricted trips to the Washington, D.C. area. This includes Manassas Park Middle School’s plans to visit the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum on Independence Avenue. Trips are still scheduled to Paramount’s Kings Dominion amusement park and to Williamsburg, Superintendent Thomas DeBolt said.

In Manassas Park, there are no trips scheduled to New York or out of the country. The restriction will remain as long as Code Orange is in effect, DeBolt said.

Trips north of the Potomac River have been restricted in Stafford County’s school division, said Valerie Cottongim, Stafford County school division’s coordinator of public information.

In Stafford, no trips were scheduled out of the country. Students will still take trips to other places in the nation. School officials have not determined when the restriction will be lifted, Cottongim said.

In surrounding jurisdictions, Fairfax and Loudoun county school officials had no restrictions on field trips as of Thursday.

Fairfax County school officials have no restrictions on school events, field trips and other activities on school grounds. School officials are monitoring the threat level and keeping in close contact with local, state and federal officials, said Mary Shaw, Fairfax County school division’s spokeswoman.

The Loudoun County school officials have been on a heightened state of alert since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. As of Thursday, school officials had not placed any restrictions on field trips. Each situation is handled on a case by-case basis, according to Wayde Byard, Loudoun County school divisions’s pubic information officer.