Central Okanagan school bus transportation may be cancelled for remainder of school year - InfoNews

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Central Okanagan school bus transportation may be cancelled for remainder of school year

May 24, 2020 - 2:30 PM

Central Okanagan students are heading back to the classroom, but buses may not be transporting them.

“The Provincial Government has set June 1, to be the date that school districts move to Stage 3, leaving sixteen days of instruction under this stage,” according to Central Okanagan Public Schools secretary-treasurer Ryan Stierman, in a memo which will be presented to the Board of Education.

“Parents of elementary students will be provided with the option to attend class two days a week, which would equal eight days of in-class instruction per student. Middle and secondary students would be provided with the opportunity to attend class one day per week, or four days of instruction.”

District staff members are recommending that the board should cancel the remainder of the regular busing service for June due to the part-time nature of the school programs.

A survey of all students' families completed last week indicates that 48.5 per cent of students (10,812) would be returning to classrooms on June 1.

READ MORE: 49% of Central Okanagan students returning to classrooms; masks won't be required


The district would be unable to reschedule all routes prior to June 1, and to run a regular schedule would remove bus drivers from current cleaning duties, according to the memo. Bus drivers are currently performing cleaning duties in schools, which require more frequent cleaning of touch points, according to the memo.

“Forty-seven out of the district's 87 regular drivers are 60 years or older and thirty are between 50 and 59 years old,” according to the statement.

Reducing contact between bus drivers and students would be a challenge at this time. Current federal regulations do not allow for the installation of plexiglass shields on a school bus but there is discussions at the provincial and federal level to retro-fit a safety shield for the driver, "which is anticipated to be in place for September 2020," according to the memo.

Special needs transportation would continue, Stierman said in the memo. For routes that run in June, new physical distancing measures would be implemented for staff and students.

READ MORE: Should she visit? Alberta woman receives mixed response after asking Okanagan residents about visitors

Staff also recommends that the school board should reduce the transportation fee paid by parents in the 2019/2020 year by 30 per cent, as transportation will only be provided for seven out of 10 months.  If the decision is made to refund fees, parents would receive them by the end of June, according to the statement.

School District No.22 in Vernon has cancelled regular transportation for the same reasons, according to the agenda. 

The district currently has 5,500 bus riders.

The Board of Education will make a decision during Wednesday night’s regular meeting, May 27.


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