Aug. 26, 2008
FREDERICTON (CNB) - The interdepartmental working group on extracurricular transportation has completed its review and released its recommendations, Education Minister Kelly Lamrock announced today.
The working group was appointed to review the facts of an accident in Bathurst that claimed the lives of eight people on Jan. 12. The group's recommendations are designed to minimize the risk of student travel to extracurricular activities.
"All parents want to know that their children will be safe when they travel to events, particularly in light of the Bathurst tragedy," Lamrock said. "I thank the working group for its hard work and direction on this very important issue."
The working group made eight recommendations that are currently being reviewed by government, with decisions to come in the next few weeks.
Though guidelines are in place to recommend best practices for transporting students to extracurricular events, the department currently has no legal authority to monitor or enforce them. Under the recommendations, procedures would be mandatory and enforced, due to regulatory amendments.
In addition to making the existing guidelines enforceable policies through regulation, the working group recommends that policies be strengthened by:
"By making these kinds of changes, we will go even further to minimize the risk for students travelling to and from extracurricular activities," Lamrock said. "I look upon these recommendations very favourably, and my cabinet colleagues and I will be acting in the near future to put them into place."
In the interim, Lamrock has called upon district superintendents to operate under the principles set out in the recommendations until the changes are formally put into effect.
The working group consists of members from the departments of Education, Transportation, Public Safety, Supply and Services, and the Office of the Attorney General.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Education Minister Kelly Lamrock will participate in a media scrum at 2 p.m. in the Departmental Building, 96 St. John Street, Fredericton. Background information follows. MEDIA CONTACTS: Jordan O'Brien or Angélique Binet, Education, 506-444-4714.
Recommendations of the minister's interdepartmental working group on extracurricular transportation
In the early hours of Jan. 12, 2008, an accident involving a tractor trailer and a vehicle carrying members of the Bathurst High School basketball team and other individuals occurred near Bathurst. Eight people were killed.
On Jan. 18, the minister of education asked an interdepartmental working group to make "recommendations that minimize the risk of travel by students to extracurricular activities."
After reviewing relevant facts from the department, district records, schools, practices in other jurisdictions, and the findings of the RCMP and Transport Canada accident reports, the group prepared eight recommendations that will strengthen the safety of students being transported to extracurricular activities.
The group notes that the safest means of transporting students is on a school bus, which is used to transport the vast majority of students to and from school. The group further notes that the Canadian Standards Association recently released a new standard for a multi-functional activity bus that is "a safer alternative to vehicles not classified as a school bus but which are still used to transport groups of school-aged passengers" to and from school-related activities. Therefore, the group recommends that these vehicles be the primary modes of transportation for large groups of students to and from extracurricular activities.
The working group also advises that regulations, not guidelines, are required to ensure compliance and maximum safety for students.