Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Questions (257)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

257. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Education and Skills the financial measures that will be taken to support bus sub-contractors that are contracted by Bus Éireann to provide school transport during the imposed closure of schools from 13 to 29 March 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4899/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of my Department.

The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.

In the current school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 children with special educational needs, are transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €219m in 2019.

Following the initial announcement that schools would be closed from the 13th to the 29th March to support efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19, and in light of the exceptional circumstances, it was agreed that school transport contractors would be paid at the normal rate for the period up to 29th March 2020.

It was further decided that a payment of 50% would be afforded for the week commencing Monday 30th March until Friday 3rd April 2020. Thereafter, the normal arrangements applied for the period of scheduled school closures associated with the Easter Holidays (6th April – 17th April inclusive). It was subsequently agreed that contractors should be paid for a further 5 days at 50% to cover the period Monday 20th April to Friday 24th .

In light of the most recent announcement that schools will remain closed until the end of current school year it has been decided that contractors will continue to be paid at 50% while schools are closed in the current school year.