Fairfax County is likely to prohibit its public schools from sponsoring trips abroad this summer because of the danger of terrorism, school officials said yesterday.
"Unless world conditions change significantly, we will probably cancel the trips," said school spokesman Dolores B. Bohen.
"Any prudent person would recognize that we would at least potentially be placing the youngsters in danger" by going forward with the trips, she added.
Bohen said a final decision will be made by April 29.
The Loudoun County school system has canceled its summer trips abroad, and other schools systems in the region are considering similar measures.
The Fairfax school system runs five summer programs combining several weeks of study in the humanities followed by travel. The five programs feature trips to England and France; England and Spain; England and Germany; Italy and Greece, and Japan.
Applications to the five programs are down sharply from last year, a decrease that school officials attribute to fear of terrorist incidents.
The programs began in 1982, and enrollment doubled every year until this year. Last year, 137 students took part. This year, however, 110 students applied to the program.
More than 30 parents, most of whom expressed reservations about allowing the trips to go forward this summer, have telephoned the schools regarding the issue, according to Maria Wilmeth, a program official.
Last year, the planned trip to Italy and Greece was changed to Italy because of concerns about security at the Athens airport. A West Springfield High School chorus was in the Rome airport in December when terrorists killed 16 persons.
The Fairfax programs start in mid-June, with about three weeks of studying the language, history and culture of the country to be visited. That is followed by three weeks of traveling in July.
Trip costs range from $1,750 to $2,130 and are borne by the students. They receive one elective credit on a pass-fail basis.