Tuesday, 18 May 2021
Department of Education and Skills
496. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if students that paid for school transport for the term from Christmas to Easter 2021 will receive a refund given the service was never provided; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26187/21]
School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education. In the current school year over 114,100 children, including over 14,700 children with special educational needs, are transported on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country at a cost of over €224.7m in 2020.
The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.
The decision taken by the Government not to re-open schools on the 6th January 2021, followed by the subsequent phased re-opening, was taken in the interest of protecting our pupils, their families, teachers and those members of the wider community and is one of the many measures taken to support efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Given that the school transport services have not been available for part of the current school year, it has been decided that at the end of the current school year a refund for that period of closure will be issued to parents/guardians. The Department is currently engaging with Bus Éireann in considering how best to facilitate these refunds.