School District 72 will be taking a look at the question of whether school buses should have seat-belts.
Trustee Joyce McMann raised the matter at the Nov. 27 school board meeting. She sits as the board’s representative on the district parent advisory council (DPAC)
“They are front line to the issues that come up in their schools,” she said.
She cited a recent television expose on a current affairs program about safety questions around school buses.
“This was a very hot and intense conversation around the DPAC table,” McMann said.
She asked that staff prepare a status report looking at the status of seat-belts and whether there is any intention to implement them.
McMann referred to the expose, saying it was alarming that research about bus safety and belts had not been disclosed by the federal government for several years, which ran counter to what she had understood, specifically, differences of safety in head-on collisions versus other collisions.
“It left many parent and many people who saw it wondering what districts might be obliged to do,” she said. “I’m just curious to know where we are, whether new buses will including this in their design.”
Superintendent Jeremy Morrow responded, saying a parent had raised this question with staff earlier this year. He also said Transport Canada is currently reviewing a recommendation for seat-belts in school buses. He suggested the board wait for that review to be complete before taking any action.
“What we have looked into was concern around potential litigation,” he said.
Secretary-treasurer Kevin Patrick said there were still questions about whether retrofitting all buses with seatbelts would still be in compliance with Transport Canada regulations, specifically if the retrofits had to be redone to match regulations that come down later from the review process.
“At this point, we don’t know,” he said. “This has been a topic of conversation amongst other school districts.”
Transport Canada regulates school bus safety stands and develops regulatory policy with provincial governments, and began the review process of information on school buses and seat-belts in October.
The board passed McMann’s motion asking staff to prepare a report on seatbelts in school buses and whether school districts have the ability to make decisions concerning seatbelts outside of transportation regulations and law.