Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Saskatchewan School Van Accident: Did they learn anything at all from Boys in Red Tragedy??

On May 5, a 15-passenger van carrying 12 students and two teachers from Ecole Secondaire College Mathieu in Gravelbourg slid off Highway 2 and into the ditch. The Conseil des ecoles fransaskoise (CEF), the board that oversees the Gravelbourg school, are to decide on the future of 15-passenger vans within the district. Photograph by: Bryan Schlosser, Leader-Post files

Sask. school division reviews controversial vans after accident

Click here to read original article in the Regina Leader Post

By Tim Switzer, Regina Leader-Post May 14, 2010

REGINA — An accident last week involving a 15-passenger van carrying high-school students might prompt some Saskatchewan school divisions to take another look at their policies regarding the vehicles, but those that still use them aren't rushing to make changes.

On May 5, a 15-passenger van carrying 12 students and two teachers from Ecole Secondaire College Mathieu in Gravelbourg, Sask., slid off the highway and into the ditch.

While no major injuries resulted from the crash, it served as a reminder of the potential dangers many school divisions across the country have tried to protect against in recent years.

Use of the vans by school groups first drew national attention in 2008 when seven members of a New Brunswick high school basketball team were killed when their 15-passenger van collided with a transport truck.

The vans have since been banned in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec, but the Saskatchewan government has left it up to each school division to make its own policy.

Across southern Saskatchewan, policies vary between divisions.

Officials from the Conseil des ecoles fransaskoise, the board that oversees Saskatchewan's French-language schools, including the Gravelbourg school, are still gathering information from the accident before they make a decision on the future of 15-passenger vans within the division.

The board allows the vans to be used, but drivers undergo extensive training before getting behind the wheel.

Bernard Roy, director of education for the board, plans to present accident information at a meeting on May 31, after which the board might choose to change the policy. So far, however, Roy has not received any feedback suggesting that something needs to change.

"I don't know if we are in the same situation with other cars or buses . . . if something would have happened, we don't know," he said. "It's hard to say if (it happened) just because it was a 15-passenger or a situation with the road or wind or ice. We don't know."

Audrey Roadhouse, Saskatchewan's deputy minister of education, said the province is not considering a ban and noted that few divisions use the vehicles any more.

Celeste York, director of education for Saskatchewan's Holy Trinity School Division, said her division tries to use its van within Moose Jaw, but it is sometimes driven outside of city limits. The division is considering purchasing a vehicle to replace the van.

Neither the Regina Public nor Prairie South divisions use 15-passenger vans, but will use 12-passenger vehicles, while the Prairie Valley School division does not use vans for transport at all.

The Good Spirit School Division follows the same regulations as the Conseil des ecoles fransaskoise and Holy Trinity. The Regina Catholic board will only allow 15-passenger vans to be used within city limits.

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

Click here to read original article in the Regina Leader Post