Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Questions (95)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

95. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education if the planned return to 100% capacity on school transport on 29 November 2021 will be postponed due to the escalation in Covid-19 numbers and the resulting health and safety risks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57724/21]

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