School bus users will not be subject to social distancing and pupils will be seated alongside siblings or other classmates, it has been announced by Bus Éireann and the Department of Education.
Speaking to The Echo, National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) general secretary Dermot O’Leary said as one of the stakeholders involved in getting schools back open, the union is playing its part but that it does have concerns.
Mr O’Leary said that with school bus drivers allowed to work up to the age of 70, it is important to ensure that all drivers are protected from Covid-19.
“Not all the school buses have screens to protect the drivers, we must make sure the drivers are protected,” said Mr O’Leary.
He said there is a lot of responsibility being placed on stakeholders in relation to the schools reopening and he hopes everyone plays their part.
“We will be relying on parents to ensure that kids from the age of 13 are wearing masks and we are also depending on the drivers to implement a disinfecting regime every night,” he said.
“There is a lot of responsibility being placed on a lot of people and it is important we all pull together.”
Mr O’Leary also said that in Cork as well as in Dublin, some children would be taking mainstream buses to reach their school and said, with regular buses at 50% capacity, the National Transport Authority would need to offer guidance on how this demand on the services would be addressed.
The union representative said while there are concerns about getting kids back to school, reopening the education campuses is an “economy-defining” initiative that is much needed and he is hopeful the measures put in place to safeguard drivers and students would be effective.