The Ottawa School Transportation Authority warns that short-term school bus cancellations are possible when classes resume
The Ottawa School Transportation Authority warns that school bus trips could be canceled at any time due to COVID-19 when students return to class next week.
Students from the Ottawa Carleton District School Board and the Ottawa Catholic School Board are returning to class on Monday for the first time since before Christmas. Classes have been held online since January 5.
School bus and yellow van service for K-12 students will resume Monday after the break.
However, the organization responsible for all school transportation says there “could be an increase in service disruptions” related to COVID-19 in the short and long term.
“We are doing everything we can to provide as much service as possible on Monday,” said Ottawa Student Transportation Agency Executive Director Vicky Kyriaco.
“One of the issues that we can’t control, of course, is whether drivers are going to get sick or not and everyone has to self-isolate along the way. So we’re hoping that as many as possible will be missing the first day.”
The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority says drivers may be forced to self-isolate due to COVID-19, which means short-term cancellations can occur day-to-day.
“Depending on the circumstances, some routes may return to normal within a day or two, while others may be canceled for a longer period,” OSTA said.
Kyriaco says the Ottawa School Transportation Authority is also dealing with a driver shortage that has plagued the system since the start of the school year.
“We still have a driver shortage. We’re still working to find a solution,” Kyriaco said during an interview on CTV Morning Live.
“We have had drivers, new drivers have been hired and we continue to work with operators to help them recruit and let people know that we still need drivers.”
Approximately 85% of school bus drivers are fully immunized. Unvaccinated drivers must undergo a rapid antigen test twice a week.
TIPS FOR PARENTS
The Ottawa School Transportation Authority is asking parents and guardians to assess their child’s health before boarding the bus.
“If your child has symptoms of COVID-19, do not put them on the bus/van or drop them off at school,” OSTA said.
Kyriaco says there is always a seating plan in place for all school buses, with students assigned to a seat.
“It’s really important for parents to remind their children to sit in their assigned seat.”
All students are required to wear a mask on the bus. Drivers were issued personal protective equipment, including untested N95 masks or medical-grade masks, face shields, goggles and rapid antigen tests.