LEWISTON — Superintendent Bill Webster prohibited swimming on all school field trips in a directive that he issued Tuesday in response to the drowning of Lewiston Middle School student Rayan Issa during a recent trip to Range Pond State Park.

Webster said the policy is necessary because the school district does not currently have a way to determine whether a student can swim. The directive takes effect immediately because the school department’s summer learning programs begin Monday, he said.

Webster’s directive also mandates that all field trips must be approved by the school committee before permissions slips are sent out, and all permission slips will be in English and Somali.

He expects that the school board will adopt a permanent policy governing field trips to replace his directive before school starts in the fall.

“No parent should have to lose a child,” Webster told the school committee on Monday night. “And unfortunately, we’ve learned a lot and are learning more on what we should and should not be doing on field trip procedure.”

He said the directive is a place to start and it will be updated pending feedback from the community and recommendations from the school’s law firm, Brann & Isaacson.

The firm is in the middle of an extensive investigation into Issa’s death June 12. Initial reports indicated the 13-year-old was within the safety barrier of the swimming area at Range Pond State Park when he went under while playing with friends.

He was not found for at least a half-hour, and it is believed he didn’t know how to swim. The 113 students on the seventh-grade outing were accompanied by 11 chaperones. One lifeguard was on duty at the park.

The permission slips also will include more in-depth information about each trip, including a list of all possible activities, any and all risks associated with those activities and a description of the safety steps and precautions that will be used.

Additionally, all field trips will begin with a safety talk, employ a buddy system, and include regular check-ins.

“This is a complicated area,” Webster said, “and it is clear that we do not know, necessarily, what best practices are for field trip activities.”

Contact Amanda Cullen at: [email protected]

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