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Secondary school buses to run at 50% capacity only, government confirms

The Department of Education said it had taken the decision following advice from NPHET.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced that it will run school buses for secondary students at 50% capacity.

In a statement this evening, the Department of Education said it had taken the decision to do so following advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) about public transport.

New guidelines issued by the Government earlier this week urged the public to avoid the use of public transport where possible.

It had previously planned to run school buses at full capacity when pupils return this month, but to have students wear face coverings to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

“Discussions are already underway with Bus Éireann… in order to implement measures so that any services that can operate from the start of the school year at 50% capacity will do so,” a spokesman for the department said.

The statement also said that “all other post-primary transport services will be re-organised and additional services will be provided as required”, although it did not provide a specific timeline for when this would be implemented.

The department’s spokesman added that it would issue communications to parents and children in the coming days.

Services for primary school children will operate fully, and will have additional measures and hygiene requirements in place.

As part of health measures announced on Tuesday, people are again being urged to avoid public transport, and only use it if absolutely necessary.

Asked this evening about this advice in context of school buses continuing, acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said that no one measure protects people from Covid-19. 

“I’m not disregarding our recommendation this week because I think it’s a very important recommendation around physical distancing, but no one measure by itself, protects you from this disease,” he said.

If children get on school buses and don’t wear face coverings, if they get on with dirty hands or don’t sanitize their hands before and afterwards. If they don’t take all of the other measures. If when they’re in their households, their parents and themselves aren’t following the public health advice, all of these things play into risk.

“And so it’s not about one measure, I am satisfied that the Department of Education has been working really assiduously over the past couple of months with teachers with principals with school caretakers to ensure that children returning next week, return to as safe a school environment as as as possible to be created in this country.”

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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