Seating rules not being followed on daughter’s school bus, parent says
WINNIPEG -- The River East Transcona School Division has worked to improve seating arrangements on its buses, but one parent says the improvement doesn’t go far enough.
It comes after the R.M. of East St. Paul parent Elaine Hrysio brought forward concerns over her daughter’s rides to school.
“We’re sending our kids off to a place where we have to trust the plan is going to be followed,” said Hrysio, whose daughter in grade six sometimes catches the bus to get to school in Winnipeg.
Lately, Hrysio’s been driving her to school as often as she can. That’s because she said her daughter was sharing a seat with someone from outside their household who also wasn’t in her daughter’s in-school cohort.
“There are specific rules that need to be followed when two students are sharing a seat together on the bus and we realized that the rules around that were not being followed,” said Hrysio.
Hrysio brought up the issue with the division. She also raised concerns that seats aren’t being cleaned between one group of students getting off the bus and another getting on.
In a statement sent to CTV News Thursday afternoon, the River East Transcona School Division (RETSD) said it made changes.
“We are aware and have rectified a situation where students from two different schools were seated together and were not from the same family,” the statement reads.
It contends buses are cleaned regularly including in between students loading and unloading.
The RETSD said training related to driving during the pandemic happened before school started. It said all drivers attended and completed the training.
But despite the statement, Hrysio said Thursday evening that students on her daughter’s bus were still sitting with people from outside their in-school cohorts.
“I think the guidelines are important and they’re there for a reason and that reason is to try to reduce the risk,” she said.
Hrysio’s not the only one with concerns. A union representing school bus drivers said it’s also been calling on the division to do more to keep people safe.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 796 represents more than 100 drivers in the division.
CUPE Manitoba president Abe Araya said members take cleaning seriously, which can leave them running behind schedule.
“Whether they have time or not it’s our understanding they’re cleaning all the seats and they’re becoming 30 minutes late to picking up the second group of kids,” said Araya.
The union worries the problem will only get worse with winter driving conditions.
Araya said drivers need more help to deal with the complications of COVID-19.
“Why we believe there should be another person on the bus,” he said. “We’ve said that right from the beginning.”
The Manitoba Association of Parent Councils hasn’t been made aware of any specific issues on buses, but executive director Brenda Brazeau said it’s important all guidelines are followed and that families are kept in the loop.
“There’s been so many changes day-to-day with the pandemic and the numbers keep increasing and parents want to be aware of all matters at all times,” said Brazeau.
Hrysio understands planning routes and seating assignments is complicated.
“It’s not ever going to be perfect, but we at least have to try to do the things we’re supposed to do,” she said.