Toronto District School Board eases restrictions on student travel to U.S.

It was a more than usual heated discussion at Toronto District School Board meeting Wednesday evening, but in the end the board of trustees voted 14-6 in favour of loosening a travel ban to the United States for students.

“The students are going to be just over the moon,” said trustee Alexander Brown, who presented the motion at the meeting.

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“I expect we’ll be getting a lot of emails saying, ‘Thanks,’ and really the whole point that was made tonight in the boardroom was that we don’t want to clip their wings. We want to give them those opportunities.”

READ MORE: Toronto school board cancelling future trips to U.S. due to ‘uncertainty’ over travel ban

The board’s limitations on travelling down south was in response to U.S. President Donald Trump‘s travel ban on residents from six mostly-Muslim countries.

Although the change to the board’s ban on travel to the U.S. will now allow students to visit for more academic and professional events, trustees said there is still a stoppage on any other kind of trip down south.

“If a school was planning a trip for sight-seeing that could be done here in Canada, those kind of trips would be restricted from going to the States under the motion that just passed,” said Brown.

READ MORE: Trump travel ban allowed to take full effect by U.S. Supreme Court

The change is sitting well with Grade 11 students Maisha Fahmida and Maheep Bagha, who were both selected to head down to the an important career development event in Atlanta, Georgia later this year.

The International Career Development Conference held by DECA brings together some of the best high school and college students in marketing, law and finance.

“DECA is one of the biggest business competitiosn in the world, I’d like to say and it’s recognized in all universities across U.S. and Canada,” said Fahmida, who stressed the importance of attending the competition so she could put it on her university application.

“It is an opportunity I wouldn’t want anyone in the school to miss.”

Bagha said she and her fellow students would have been devastated if the board’s U.S. travel ban wasn’t amended.

“Once you qualify, you feel like its so close, like you can actually go, but the fact that you actually have to face it that you can’t go… I would feel crushed,” said Bagha.

The board amended the original motion that said only secondary school students would be exempted from travelling to the U.S. for competitions and professional development events, expanding it to include elementary school students as well.

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