Parents to be reimbursed for alternative school transport if students unable to social distance
Minister for Education Norma Foley has announced that parents whose children cannot social distance on school buses can be reimbursed for organising alternative transport.
The Department of Education has scrapped plans to run buses at full capacity for secondary school students when they reopen.
The buses will now run at 50% capacity with work ongoing between officials and Bus Éireann to realise the plans.
But Mrs Foley has admitted the extra capacity needed will not be ready in all schools in time for reopening, saying the process is a “huge logistical challenge”.
To help ease capacity issues, she said if parents “can provide their own transport we will recompense them if they are ticket holders on the bus”.
“We must recognise that this is the department being proactive and recognise that as we journey through Covid we must be flexible, we must be resilient,” she said.
She added: “We’re doing all that needs to be done.”
Secondary school concerns
Secondary school pupils have “critical concerns” over the implementation of guidelines aimed at safely reopening schools from this week, according to a students’ union.
In a letter to the Minister for Education, the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU) has requested clarification on what it says are unanswered questions regarding school re-openings.
It wants to see any official guidance which outlines the rationale for allowing different social distancing rules in schools compared with wider society.
The union has also questioned how students with medical problems can be expected to travel to school and attend classes.
It also called for the publication of a threshold number of coronavirus cases which will determine when schools need to close on a local or national basis.
“Students, families, teachers and all in the school community recognise the necessity to return to school and want to return to education, having been out of the classroom since early March,” according to the letter from ISSU president Reuban Murray.
“However, this requires clearer communications on the health and safety protocols expected within schools. To ensure an effective transition in the reopening of schools it is pivotal that guidance and clarification is provided on…areas of concern.”