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School division adding adult crossing guards following boy's death at crosswalk
Crossing guard Joseph Ryan says he's seen some close calls at the crosswalk he patrols near Hastings School, even though it has flashing lights.
"It's a winter time thing of slowing down or being able to stop as they come to the intersection," said Ryan. He believes his presence and the presence of others like him makes drivers more aware.
"They know we're here and there's always a crossing guard in the morning, lunchtime and at the end of the day," said Ryan.
In February an eight-year-old boy was hit and killed at a similar St. Vital crosswalk on his way to school.
In the wake of that tragedy, the Louis Riel School Division is making safety upgrades to school routes, including adding more adult crossing guards at busy intersections.
"People in our community have been telling us that there are other intersections that are just as dangerous that we don't have anybody on," said Louis Riel School Board Chair Chris Sigurdson.
The division is increasing the number of adult guards from 30 to 41 to cover more schools. The length of their shifts is also increasing in case some students are running late.
"The adults seem to have more control, the cars seem to stop a lot easier for them," said grandparent Bill Pearase.
The guards are paid, they're not volunteers. All of them will now receive safety training including first aid. The cost for these changes adds up to more than $100,000.
"We want to make sure that everyone who is responsible for our kids knows exactly what they're doing," said Sigurdson.
The division is also lobbying the province to change the law and allow the guards to use stop sign paddles, instead of flags.
"To me it stands out a little, the flag is okay. It's orange, but no, I like the stop sign," said Pearase.
Ryan says his flag is sufficient. But he wouldn't stop a good idea.
"Whatever keeps the kids safe, I'd be happy with," said Ryan.
Sigurdson says the changes will be implemented for the next school year.