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Mar 3, 2022

7 min. read

For more than 90 years, the CAA School Safety Patrol® program has been helping students get to and from school safely. But unfortunately many schools were forced to suspend the program in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19 concerns.

With educators wrestling with social distancing rules and the prospect of online learning, few had time to get the program up and running.

The Consortium de transport scolaire d’Ottawa (CTSO) however, which buses students across a vast area of eastern Ontario, didn’t want to put the program on pause.

Connecting teachers, bus drivers and Patrollers

The CTSO worked with teachers and administrators at more than 37 schools to train over 800 student volunteers as CAA School Safety Patrollers. Bus Patrollers help bus drivers keep students safe on trips to and from school. These 37 schools represented 30 percent of all Ontario schools that participated in the program in 2020 and 2021.

Award-winning recognition

Two men standing in front of a banner with the word consortum.

For that dedicated effort, the CTSO received the CAA School Safety Patrol Program Community Achievement Award. This honour is awarded to people and organizations who have done outstanding work delivering the CAA School Safety Patrol program in their region. This was not an easy feat in 2020 and 2021 with public health guidelines changing frequently.

“Having been in the school bus industry for over 20 years, I know firsthand the importance of this program,” says Yvon Bergeron, a CTSO safety officer. “We just wanted to ensure that it kept going even through the pandemic.”

The importance of training

The CTSO has been involved in the CAA School Safety Patrol program for eight years. Before the pandemic, Bergeron ran annual mass training sessions for more than 1,500 bus Patrollers in over 60 schools, giving them hands-on experience on school buses.

Covid-19 changed the plans for the 2020-2021 school year, with CTSO relying on the strength of their school relationships to ensure that teachers, administrators and Patrollers had the training they needed to run the program.

But Bergeron says the online model was successful and is likely to continue into next year. “It went pretty well this year and it can only improve,” Bergeron says, who has been running the CAA School Safety Patrol program at CTSO for four years.

Along with training bus Patrollers, the CTSO has consulted with CAA on the program’s French-language training content to ensure it’s accurate and culturally appropriate.

Ultimately, Bergeron says, CTSO’s success with the CAA School Safety Patrol program is thanks to the hard work of the teachers who help run the programs at their schools.

“We have great people who have been doing this program for years. When that happens, it's fun and it’s easy.”

Read on

Learn more about the CAA School Safety Patrol program and how you can help ensure safer school zones for everyone.

Image credit: stockstudioX/iStock

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