SICAMOUS – Many Okanagan kids are gearing up to go back to class, but for one Sicamous family the trip to school is about to get more dangerous. A busing change means their two daughters’ morning school bus stop is now on the other side of Highway 97A from their home.
“It is heavy with traffic,” says mother Melissa Fallis. Her daughters Natalia, 8, and Ella, 6, will have to cross the highway to get to their bus stop each morning.
“There [are] no crosswalks. There [are] no lights. There is no safe intersection. It is just dangerous for kids and their families to be crossing this highway.”
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Although their morning bus stop is now on the other side of the highway, Fallis’ daughters will still be dropped off after school on the side of the road where they live.
The North Okanagan-Shuswap School District says that the bus route is originating from a different location this year, so its direction has changed and the kids live within the district’s walk limit and are being picked up only as a courtesy.
“Our policy says that if you are [within] the four kilometer, or 4.8 if you are older, distance from your school we don’t supply a bus,” explains school board chair Bobbi Johnson.
Fallis takes issue with the walk limit itself. She doesn’t think it is reasonable to ask the kids to walk a long distance on such a dangerous route.
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“We are in a really bad spot where the kids either have to cross the highway to get to the bus or walk the highway to get to school and neither is a safe solution. I just really wish they would reinstate the bus stop from last year and put the kids first. Their safety is what is most important.”
School officials says Fallis can ask the appropriate committees to review her transportation issues and consider a policy change.
“She needs to stress that she feels this is a dangerous situation but really and truly she doesn’t get transportation. We are giving it as a courtesy to her,” says Johnson.
Fallis says she is following up with authorities and hopes changes can be made so her kids won’t have to cross the highway.