As September looms, Quebec school bus drivers say confusion reigns and some may quit
MONTREAL -- Ever since the education minister outlined the province’s back-to-school plan on Monday, many parents, teachers and others within the education system have been questioning how it will be done safely.
There's another group now voicing their concerns: school bus drivers, who say they have unresolved concerns with the start of the new school year just a few weeks away.
There are around 10,000 school bus drivers in Quebec. Their union president, fellow bus driver Caroline Laplante, says the back-to-school plan unveiled by Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge includes measures for students and staff, but doesn’t list much of anything for bus drivers.
“I’m worried and everyone I represent is worried,” said Laplante.
There isn't even much clarity on what exactly the rules are for school buses, she said.
“We’re being told we can accept between 44 and 48 children on the bus -- it changes all the time,” Laplante said.
The province could face a bigger headache than they're expecting if they ignore drivers' concerns. The union says many of its members are vulnerable seniors, and quite a few have announced they’ll simply quit rather than put their lives at risk.
When CTV Montreal asked education minister if he planned to update the safety measures to include bus drivers, his office responded by sending the original document that outlines how children will go back to school.
Within the 16-page document, there’s a short paragraph on school buses. It states there should be no more than two students per bench, a maximum of 48 students per bus, and that health and safety board directives should be respected.
The health board, however, does not have specific rules for school bus drivers. Its only guideline is that drivers should be protected by a plexiglass barrier.