Deadline to apply for school transport needs to be extended until there is clarity on how social distancing will work in schools
30 July 2020
Spokesperson on Education, Enterprise and Trade
The deadline to apply for school transport needs to be extended until there is clarity on how social distancing measures will work in schools according to Labour Education Spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.
Ó Ríordáin was speaking after Minister Norma Foley extended the deadline to apply for transport from Friday 31st of July to Tuesday 1st of August.
Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:
“While I welcome the decision to extend the deadline after I raised the issue on Primetime, the short extension from Friday to Tuesday is insufficient and frankly a joke. When I raised this, I called for the Minister to extend the deadline to give parents and transport providers a meaningful amount of time.
“Not every school transport provider is in a position to actually say whether they can operate or if they can adhere to the Government guidelines and this short extension will not give them enough time to clarify that.
“This deadline must be extended well beyond Tuesday given the mitigating circumstances and the late vague guidelines published by the Government in relation to school transport. Extending the deadline over the bank holiday weekend is counterproductive and will not give parents and service providers the clarity they need.
“The school transport model was not fit for purpose pre-social distancing and its shortcomings will only be exacerbated by the Covid crisis. An additional package of €11.3 million has been allocated for sanitiser, PPE and cleaning on school buses but there has been nothing allocated for the procurement of larger buses, if needed to accommodate social distancing.
Ó Ríordáin continued:
“The Minister needs to extend the deadline for payment for concessionary students beyond Tuesday until clarity is received as to how they will be treated and whether they will be actually able to access the services under the guidelines announced by the Government.