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Covid-19 Pandemic

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 23 November 2021

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Questions (384)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

384. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to bus drivers’ concerns in relation to 100% capacity on school buses given the increase in transmission of Covid-19; if additional resources will be put in place to support and protect bus drivers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57496/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education. In the 2020/21 school year over 114,100 children, including over 14,700 children with special educational needs, were transported on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country at a cost of over €224.7m in 2020.

Planning for school transport scheme services for the 2021/22 school year proceeded on the basis that the public health measures in place as schools closed at the end of the last school year would remain as the term began in this new school year. This included the operation of post-primary services at 50% capacity, in addition to hygiene measures and the wearing of masks on-board. The Department has kept this position under review as the vaccination programme for children on post-primary services was rolled out and as the lifting of restrictions on public transport services proceeded.

In line with the lifting of restrictions on public transport, and with effect from the return of schools following the October mid-term break, implementation commenced for post-primary school transport services to resume operating at 100% capacity. This process will take a period of time to re-organise and re-schedule services and communications will be issued to families regarding any revised arrangements.

All other measures relating to hygiene, pre-assigned seating, cleaning and the wearing of masks by post-primary students will remain in place subject to further review.

My Department continues to provide funding for all additional hygiene measures required on school transport services.

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