Every yellow bus donning the Cowichan Valley School District name has been outfitted with surveillance cameras both inside and out.
The four inner and three exterior cameras serve to fill different roles, according to a press release issued by School District spokesperson Mike Russell.
The interior cameras will help with contact tracing inside the bus, a new safety measure deemed necessary with the advent and continuation of COVID-19.
The interior cameras will enable contract tracers to ask for detailed information about conditions inside the buses including mask wearing, length of interactions, and distance between riders.
The exterior cameras serve to document traffic infractions and problem drivers who put both students and staff at risk.
“The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP will be working closely with the Cowichan Valley School District with the same goal: to keep our children safe while being transported to and from school,” said Candace Spilsbury, Cowichan Valley Board of Education chair. “Using this new technology, it will be easier to bring enforcement action to those that persist in passing school buses using their stop equipment, breaking the law and putting our children in danger.”
The extra eyes have already been fruitful. Since their installation over Spring Break, the cameras have captured 22 instances of disobeying the stop sign. Detailed video of those infractions can now be shared with the RCMP who can go on to identify vehicles and take enforcement action.
The technology cost $150,000 and has been in use for nearly a month already.
“The addition of the interior and exterior cameras on our buses provide peace of mind for students and staff alike,” Spilsbury said. “We are grateful that the grant from the Government of Canada has allowed us to enhance our safety features for everyone who rides our buses.”
The camera systems was financed by the federal government’s Safe Return to Class Fund.