Submitted by: Westwood Home and School Association
WHEREAS school buses on Prince Edward Island transporting children in grades K-12 currently have only one adult present on the bus – the bus driver, and
WHEREAS school bus drivers are responsible for safely operating school buses while providing supervision of up to 70 children under the age of 12 for up to an hour at a time, and
WHEREAS the Early Learning and Child Care Act Regulations, s. 19. (1) state that the minimum adult to child ratio for school-aged children in after-school care is 15:1, and
WHEREAS the Province of PEI’s distracted driving PSAs advises that “the only thing you should be doing while driving, is driving”, and
WHEREAS a major school bus accident occurred in October 2021 with an adult to child ratio of 27:1 on that school bus, and the accident could have been worse had the lone adult been injured, the accident occurred in a remote area, or if the accident had occurred earlier in the route with a larger ratio of children, and
WHEREAS school buses on Prince Edward Island travel on narrow roads with little to no shoulder and winter driving conditions, which creates unavoidable safety issues for bus drivers who must pull over to respond to disciplinary, medical, or other issues, and
WHEREAS incidents involving vehicles ignoring stop signs and flashing lights on school buses continue to occur regularly, and school bus drivers must closely monitor traffic and occasionally act quickly to avoid potentially fatal accidents, and
WHEREAS the Government of Prince Edward Island recently committed $6.3 million to purchase 35 new electric school buses, with the health and safety of children as one of the stated benefits of the funding, and
WHEREAS we can all agree that the health and safety of children on Prince Edward Island is a top priority;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the PEI Home and School Federation requests the Minister of Education and Lifelong Learning, Public Schools Branch, and other government departments responsible for transportation and child safety to implement the following regulation to have a minimum of two employed adults, including the bus driver and a school bus aide, present on all school buses transporting children in grades K-12 to improve supervision and safety.
Saturday, April 23, 2022
|Department of Education and Lifelong Learning
Department of Transportation
Public Schools Branch
Department of Education and Lifelong Learning:
School bus safety is a topic that is vitally important to the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning, as well as our school authorities on Prince Edward Island. We appreciate the resolution put forward by the Home and School Federation, and we are committed to taking a deeper dive into this matter and working together for the betterment of Island students.
We have recently established a School Bus Safety Taskforce, which will be examine various aspects of school bus safety. It is an integrated Taskforce, bringing together stakeholders from multiple government departments, both school authorities, and various education partners. The PEI Home and School Federation has been invited to have an active seat on the Taskforce team, and we look forward to working with your membership to strengthen school bus safety across the province.
The proposed model put forward in Resolution 2022-1; SCHOOL BUS AIDES is certainly one we will examine further. Before establishing a new model, it is our responsibility as government to do our due diligence. School bus safety is a topic of great concern across the country; as such a jurisdictional scan of best practices and examples of school bus aide policies in other provinces will be beneficial. To ensure good policy, government will also explore alternative models with the same intent.
Through the School Bus Safety Taskforce, we are already planning to bring forward meaningful changes in the coming year. Everyone has a role to plan in school bus safety. We are examining how school bus learning can be better integrated into classrooms/curriculum, to help students better understand the rules and responsibilities while on and around a bus. The transportation leads will be working with bus drivers to establish a more standardized system fo signalling students. A marketing campaign will be launched to strengthen public education on the responsibilities of drivers and the general public. The Department hopes to bring thees messages to the floor of the Legislature this fall and call for the establishment of a “School Bus Safety Week” for the province of PEI.
Our bus drivers do a tremendous job! They are a vital part of our school communities and their hard work helps ensure students travel safely on their journey, starting and ending the school day exactly where they need to be.
We all share a common goal, to provide effective, safe, efficient and reliable transportation services for our students and schools. Thee conversations have been ongoing and will continue between the Department and the school authorities. We appreciate the support from the Home and School as we work to make meaningful change for the safety of our students.