Many private school bus operators are being left without any guidance on the Covid measures they need to put in place to provide a service in just two weeks’ time, according to Denis Naughten TD.
“While private contractors operate approximately 90% of school transport services, a substantial number of students who avail of services outside the formal school transport system could be without a service or could be exposed to Covid-19 with knock on impacts for the whole school,” stated Denis Naughten.
“Over the last number of weeks Bus Eireann has provided guidance documents to prepare their private contractors for the return of students to school, but it seems that the services outside the Bus Éireann remit have been completely forgotten by authorities.
“Steps such as allocating a specific seat to each student or putting a protocol in place should a child show symptoms of Covid-19 while on a bus are being put in place for Bus Éireann contracted services, but many private operators outside this system have been provided with no guidance whatsoever.
“I’m aware of private contractors transporting students into schools with combined numbers in excess of 2,000 pupils from four counties, who have been provided with absolutely no advice on Covid-19 measures. If just one of these operators were to be a vector for Covid-19 infection, the meat plant fiasco would pale into insignificance.
“While some may try to dismiss this risk, the fact is that four months ago I highlighted very specific concerns regarding the management of Covid infection in meat plants. I don’t want to be proven right for a second time during this pandemic due to inaction by Government.
“The lack of consideration for this group of students could leave schools exposed to a level of risk of Covid infection that is preventable if support is provided to these operators,” said Denis Naughten.
“Not only do they need guidance and support but they also need assistance in sanitising their buses just like those that are contracted to Bus Éireann.
“I have contacted Minister Eamon Ryan and the National Transport Authority asking them to address this situation as a matter of urgency,” concluded Denis Naughten.