Q&A - School Crossing Guards

School Crossing GuardEcole Oceanside Elementary located at Wright road and Hwy 19A, was formerly a middle school that converted to an elementary school in 2014 when there were school closures in Parksville. We have children as young as 4 and 5 years old walking to school with their families and crossing at the intersections at Wright and Hwy 19A, as well as Wright and Wembley rd (a 4 way stop). Members of the PAC have been inquiring and advocating for better safety around our school since it became and elementary school.

There are no sidewalks surrounding the school and children are forced to walk on the shoulder of the road, a place where people often park - Our school has a large population and a lack of available parking, we were successful in having the district be able to purchase and adjacent lot and convert it to a gravel overflow parking for us, which is well utilized, however this does not prevent people from continuing to park within that shoulder area around the school and particularly around the crosswalk at Wembley and Wright - thus, children are having to walk around vehicles into the roadway to get to school.

The intersection at Wright and Hwy 19A is lighted, and provides that safety of having vehicles come to a complete stop and dedicated crossing indicator, while it is still less desirable to have our children walking across to Wright without a sidewalk, it is less concerning overall. Our PAC has been in contact with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to try and improve traffic safety here, with little traction, but we're working on it.

The main concern is with the intersection at Wembley and Wright, (as well as a crosswalk on Wright, directly in front of the school).

While it may be a 4 way stop and a controlled speed zone, this does not stop drivers from performing reckless actions while commuting through this section. I walk my own children across this crosswalk daily and I can attest that drivers often approach at speeds higher than 30km/hr, often not stopping behind the stop line, many drivers "california roll" through this intersection or "tag along" with the vehicle in front of them through the intersection. Personally me and my children have had several near misses while crossing. Another behaviour I often witness at this intersection is that drivers turning left from Wright Rd onto Wembley will often proceed into the intersection, wave frantically at the children to cross the road while they continue to creep towards them. Hence my want of a crossing guard!

Just about every year, of the last five, that my children have attended Ecole Oceanside, I ask at a PAC meeting about crossing guards. The response that I get is that we do not have them because it is an issue of liability insurance - if a volunteer were injured, who would then be the responsible party? The School, MOTI, the City? and the conversation usually ends there without further explanation and an "I'll look into that". Over the last five years the administration has had a lot of change overs, and the response is typically the same every time. This year we are again starting with new administration and this time I am hopeful the conversation can move beyond excuses of what we can't do, to what we can do.

Thank you again for taking the time on this. If it would be at all helpful to provide feedback to our PAC and Administration directly about what we can do to improve school safety, our PAC meetings are open and occur on the second Wednesday evening of every month, 6:30pm in the school library, you are more than welcome to attend, or I am happy to pass along any information at the meeting.

Comments

Getting Ready

The intersection falls under the jurisdiction of the Regional District of Nanaimo, so I've asked them if they have requirements to be met.

BCAA has a school crossing guard program, so I've asked them for input.

School District 69 has also been contacted to determine if they have any concerns.

ICBC Loss Prevention may also have advice.

Let's see where this all goes!

Regional District of Nanaimo

2019-09-13

Corporate Services at the RDN responded and it would appear that they consider this to be a concern of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Contact information for the MoTI was furnished with the suggestion that they be contacted instead.

2019-09-17

I heard the following from the RDN today:

Oceanside Middle School is now called Oceanside Elementary School, and I have taken the time to speak with our Planning Department, the Ministry of Transportation, and School District 69.

In order to implement school crossing guards at any intersection, the process as I understand is; that you need to contact the Principal of the school, in this case it would be Lesley LaCouvee at Oceanside Elementary School to receive approval for you to send a proposal to the School District’s Operations and Maintenance/Transportation person, General Manager, Chris Dempster.

Oceanside Elementary School Principal

2019-09-17

A request was sent via the school's web site asking what is needed to get the necessary approval to send a proposal to the District’s Operations and Maintenance/Transportation General Manager.

2019-09-18

The principal responded that she was unaware and would inquire with the school board.

2019-10-08

No response yet...

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Response

Setting up an adult crossing guard system is entirely under the jurisdiction of the respective school and / or school district. We don’t require any permitting or other applications on our end for the implementation of an adult crossing guard program.

Here is a link to the Pedestrian Crossing Control Manual (PCCM) that may be helpful, as well as ICBC's Safe Crossings: Guidelines for School Crossing Programs.

The PCCM has sections specifically for adult and student crossing guard programs.

BCAA School Safety Patrol Team Response

Thanks for reaching out to us. We understand that school administrators may have liability concerns, and in general it may be due to the lack of understanding about our program.

The School Safety Patrol program (SSP) has been in operation for nearly a century and its primary role is for student Patrollers to guide children and prevent them from entering traffic when it is unsafe to do so – not to direct vehicle traffic or control traffic flow. The procedures that Patrollers follow are designed for their optimal safety at the crosswalk. It’s important to note that unlike traditional crossing guards, Patrollers never walk out into the street while on duty and must stay 1 step behind the curb at all times.

With their safety equipment - including hi-vis vests, wristbands and hand-held stop signs, they are also a visual cue to remind drivers approaching a crosswalk to slow down and drive carefully in the school zone.  

Our program materials outlines the recommended procedures & practices, including a step-by-step guide to train patrollers, which is accompanied by a fun training video for students that teach them how to properly patrol a crosswalk. All this information can be viewed on our website so it might be useful for the Principal to see it first to understand how it all works.

We would also recommend that the Principal reach out to other schools within the district who have successfully implemented SSP and continue to do so for their perspective as well.

Other Resources of Interest

Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils: Crossing Guard Program History

Quarterway Elementary School in Nanaimo is part of BCAA's School Safety Patrol program.

Liability Coverage

Crossing guards are covered by the Schools Protection Program administered and delivered by the Risk Management Branch of the Ministry of Finance, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education.

The Administrator's Handbook for the 2019 - 2020 school year says the following on page 3:

c) Are the actions of volunteers covered under the liability coverage?

There are three commonly raised questions concerning volunteers:

1) Are the actions of volunteers performing volunteer duties on behalf of the school district covered by SPP?

Yes. Volunteers’ actions are covered while participating in a school board or school authorized and supervised activity.However, not all situations that occur during school activities will be considered part of the volunteers’ approved duties. For example, if during a school band tour, a volunteer or staff member decides to go to the store to buy some personal itemsand as a result becomes involved in an incident causing injury to a third party, coverage will not be available because the activity was of a strictly personal nature and unrelated to the volunteer’s obligations. Volunteers should be aware that they may have some personal legal liability exposures. These exposures may be insured under the liability section of homeowners or tenants insurance policies, or under an automobile policy. Volunteers should be advised to check with their own insurance agents.

2) Are volunteer coaches, including volunteer coaches who receive an honorarium, extended coverage?

Yes, however coverage is limited to that time during which they are participating in school district activities.

3) Are volunteers provided any medical or disability benefits if injured while volunteering?

There is no medical or disability coverage for volunteers, unless it was specifically purchased by the school district. However, if they are injured by the actions of other people, they still have the right to sue. If the injury is automobile-related ICBC may provide coverage and should be advised.It is most important for volunteers to be advised that they are required to report all incidents to the board office or by following the procedure set in your district. This is necessary both for purposes of guidance on required procedures in the event of an accident, and for the Incident Reporting process. Please refer to Section 5 for details.

My inquiry to the SPP received a quick response:

The SPP's role is to assist the districts by providing advice. School officials can email protection.program@bcspp.org to obtain information regarding the Schools Protection Program or any other risk management question.

If an official appears to be unaware of this, the PAC can advise them that they contacted the Risk Management Branch and were advised that the official would have to contact us directly if they require information regarding coverage or risk management advice.

ICBC's Response

We don’t get involved in crossing guard issues.

We don’t fund them & because of liability, etc. are reluctant to weigh in formally.

Obviously having another set of (adult) eyes where young people are crossing would likely be a positive thing but wouldn’t want that to take the place of teaching & reinforcing safe habits in children.

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