Coronavirus: Louis Riel School Division asks bus drivers to watch for symptoms

School buses in a row. Getty Images

The Louis Riel School Division is asking bus drivers to keep an eye out for any child who has cold or flu symptoms, and prevent them from boarding the bus.

The new protocol, which started Monday, will stay in effect until further notice.

“This new protocol is being introduced for the safety and well-being of our students and staff on our school buses and requires parents/guardians to do their part to help us mitigate any risk and participate in our efforts as Manitobans to slow the spread of the virus,” the division said in a statement.

Here are the new steps drivers have to take, according to the division:

  • Adults accompanying students at the bus stop will remain present until the bus departs.
  • As students board the school bus, drivers will make eye contact with each individual (students and accompanying adults) and visually assess each person to see if anyone is displaying cold- or flu-like symptoms.
  • If any student is showing cold- or flu-like symptoms or informs the school bus driver they are feeling unwell, the school bus driver is required to inform the student and their accompanying adult that they are not allowed on the school bus and should not attend school.
  • If a student is showing cold- or flu-like symptoms and there is no parent/guardian or adult present who can take them home, the student will be allowed to board the school bus.
  • Any student who boards a school bus with cold- or flu-like symptoms will be seated at the back of the bus and isolated from other students as best as possible.The bus driver will immediately inform dispatch of any student who has boarded the school bus with cold- or flu-like symptoms. The school principal will be contacted, and they will prepare for the arrival of a student showing cold- or flu-like symptoms at the school.

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The division’s superintendent, Christian Michalik, told 680 CJOB the new steps are really intended to give both bus drivers and parents/guardians a sense of control.

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“Essentially the reason for the change in practice is because over the weekend, transportation staff were expressing concerns for everyone’s safety given the close proximity on buses and we felt it then important to provide people with a sense of agency,” he said.

“My hope is that the most important message that went out to parents yesterday in big bold letters was that we really need to be vigilant and if a child, a young person is displaying cold or flu like symptoms, you should be making plans for them not to come to school.”

The bus drivers, Michalik said, aren’t medical professionals, but that’s not the point.

“It really is about just giving bus drivers and adults a sense of control.

“We’re not expecting bus drivers to make a medical assessment but we’re trying to have bus drivers engage in community with those who present at the bus stop and give them a sense of safety and security.”

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