Feb. 27, 2009
FREDERICTON (CNB) - New standards for extracurricular travel and maintenance of school vehicles used for extracurricular transportation that were first introduced in 2008 have been formally adopted as official policy. Education Minister Kelly Lamrock today released details of two new policies designed to enhance the safety of students when they are participating in extracurricular activities.
"We worked hard to find the right balance between the desire of all parents to keep their children as safe as possible, and recognizing the importance of extracurricular activities to some students and the need to travel for these activities," Lamrock said.
The policies mandate increased training for drivers who transport students; additional funding in support of extracurricular transportation; that schools may not acquire 15-passenger vans for the purpose of transporting students; and the mandatory use of winter tires.
The policies also direct that maintenance of school-operated vehicles will be done by the Department of Transportation to ensure consistency around the province. Schools will still be responsible for vehicle maintenance costs.
The new policies are based on the recommendations of a government working group on extracurricular transportation, which was established in response to the Bathurst High School van accident which occurred in January 2008.
Rules covering ownership of student extracurricular school vehicles, maintenance, insurance coverage, funding, and operation are covered by the new Policy 512.
The new Policy 513 addresses superintendents' responsibilities; principals' and extracurricular activity organizers' responsibilities; vehicle standards; driver requirements; and out-of-province travel. Superintendents will be responsible for deciding if travel will be cancelled due to weather, and travel will not be allowed between midnight and 6 a.m., unless authorized by the superintendent.
The new policies will be reviewed once the coroner's inquest into the Bathurst accident is completed. The inquest will be held May 4-15.
Policies 512 and 513 may be found online.
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Kilfoil, communications, Department of Education, 506-444-4714.