BUS Eireann has been criticised for looking to recruit additional school bus and taxi drivers in the same week that students returned to classrooms after six months at home.
Currently, just 20% of their secondary school bus services are operating at the recommended 50% capacity due to Covid-19 restrictions.
It has also been reported that it could take up to three months before all their secondary school routes can operate at 50% capacity as reviews are carried out on all 2,100 post primary routes to try and meet the new requirements.
Local Independent Cllr Declan Hurley has hit out at the timing of the recruitment scheme describing it as ‘farcical’.
‘This should have been done months ago,’ he said. ‘This is a problem in normal circumstances, and leaving it to this late stage suggests nobody is at the wheel and trying to sort this out.’
Meanwhile, a West Cork mother said she’s extremely frustrated at the approach being taken by the Department of Education with regards the reopening of schools.
‘As a parent of three children who have played by the rules all summer and restricted their movement and contacts, it’s a kick in the teeth to send them all off with a “keep the fingers crossed” approach.’
Anna Gram, from Durrus, acknowledged that parents had the choice whether to put their children on the bus or not, but added: ‘I’m disappointed that blended learning approaches have not been adopted to thin out the schools.
‘I am high risk and fully support mask wearing generally, but I can’t believe, with 24 children fitting in one room together all day, that a mask will make any difference when medical professionals with the best equipment to protect themselves have caught Covid.’
Meanwhile, the Department of Education is providing a grant for parents of children who are eligible for the school transport scheme. The grant will support parents with the cost of private transport arrangements.
Grants will be paid at the end of the school year, with a maximum daily allowance payable of €5.10 per day.
Any parent/guardian wishing to organise alternative transport arrangements is entitled to a full refund of their School Transport Scheme fees from Bus Éireann.