The federal government shutdown entered its third week Monday, Oct. 14, but the Edison Intermediate-Middle School eighth-grade trip to Washington, D.C., is still on the calendar.
"I think (today, Oct. 17) is going to be a big day," Principal Bob Baeslack said early this week, referring to the potential date of a government default if Congress and the White House cannot reach an agreement.
"We'll probably know a lot more about what's going to happen that day," he said.
Because many of the sites students usually visit are closed due to the shutdown, Prodigy Student Travel, the company that arranges the annual eighth-grade trip, has arranged an alternate itinerary for the Oct. 24-26 tour, Baeslack said.
"You're not able to visit the Capitol, the Holocaust Museum is out and the Smithsonian Institute is definitely out while the shutdown continues," he said.
Students now are scheduled to visit Mount Vernon and still are expected to stop by various memorials in Washington, including the World War II, Vietnam, Korean, Martin Luther King, Franklin Roosevelt and Jefferson memorials.
As usual, the trip will begin with a visit to the Gettysburg battlefield before continuing on to Washington.
Prodigy representatives were in contact with the school last week, giving moment-by-moment reports on the visits that other student groups were making to the memorials, Baeslack said.
Students are able to walk by and view the memorials at a farther distance than usual, he said.
At the Lincoln Memorial, for example, visitors can view the exterior of the site, but cannot go up the steps and into the interior, Baeslack said.
"It's not the best situation for our trip, but I think it's still worthwhile for students to go," he said.
At this point, the trip is more likely to be postponed, if necessary, rather than canceled altogether, Baeslack said, adding he expects the trip to go on even if the shutdown is still in place Oct. 24.
Only a few parents have contacted the school, mostly to ask whether the trip is still on, he said.
"As a parent, you have signed a contract, and if you decide to pull your student from the trip, you'd be out the money you paid," Baeslack said.
A parents meeting about the trip is set from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. today, Oct. 17, in the middle school commons.