School bus drivers in Quebec say they deserve to know if they have recently transported students who have tested positive for COVID-19.
It is currently not mandatory for school boards and service centres in the province to notify their partner organizations, including school bus companies, after a school has a confirmed case. But the government does require administrators to notify all parents and staff at a school when it becomes the site of an infection, the Confédération des Syndicats Nationaux (CSN) union, which represents 3,500 school bus drivers in Quebec, pointed out in a press release Wednesday.
The union says that drivers are often exposed to students for long periods of time, and that those younger than Grade 5 are not required to wear masks. Drivers also aren’t always able to be at a proper distance, they say.
Notifying bus drivers should be just as simple as it currently is for a school to reach out to parents and staff impacted by a reported infection, the CSN says, because schools are supposed to track what student rides which bus route in their computer system.
Just like the teaching staff in Quebec schools, many bus drivers, too, are of advanced age, which would put them at increased risk of complications should they be exposed to COVID-19 at work, according to the president of the union’s school transportation division, Stephen P. Gauley.
Since the academic year began, the Ministry of Education has reported 817 cases of COVID-19 among primary, secondary and vocational school students and staff.
— With files from the Canadian Press’s French-language service.
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