Ireland’s national bus company has issued an update in relation to the school transport scheme that it operates on behalf of the Department of Education.
Bus Eireann says it is currently issuing tickets and commencing services for the 2020/21 school year.
Last year, the School Transport Scheme accommodated 38,000 primary students and 68,000 post-primary of which 14,200 were had special educational needs.
In response to the Government decision to limit capacity on post-primary school transport to 50%, Bus Éireann is reviewing all 2,100 post-primary routes to determine which solution can most quickly and appropriately deliver the 50% capacity.
The company says solutions will range from schedule changes to additional resources in terms of vehicles and drivers.
One-fifth of school services will be at 50% capacity from commencement of the term.
Routes are currently being assessed to ascertain requirements such as vehicle and driver numbers so that arrangements can be made to pursue those resources via a competitive process.
The company says it is also seeking to ensure that all vetting and inspection of quality and safety standards is maintained as well as training drivers and contractors in relation to Covid-19 prevention protocols across primary and post-primary transport.
Resources are currently being sourced and allocated from across the company to support all of these efforts.
All other Department of Education guidelines in relation to operating during the Covid-19 pandemic will also be observed by passengers and drivers in the operation of the School Transport Scheme to include social distancing while awaiting and travelling on buses, pre-assigned seating, use of hand sanitiser, observing respiratory etiquette and the wearing of face coverings by children aged over 13 years.
There will be enhanced cleaning of school buses, including between morning and afternoon services.
Any parent/guardian wishing to organise alternative transport arrangements is entitled to a full refund of their School Transport Scheme fees from Bus Éireann.
The Minister of Education has also announced that, at the end of the school year, a grant will be available relating to post-primary children who are eligible for transport whose parents/guardians choose to make private transport arrangements arising from the most recent health advice.
This must be notified to the Department of Education at [email protected]