Written answers

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Department of Education and Skills

School Transport

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal, Sinn Fein)
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215. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills when refunds will issue to those who paid for school transport for the term from Christmas to Easter 2021; the way they will be issued; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38612/21]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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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 school transport services were not available for part of the 2020/21 school year, it was decided that at the end of the school year a refund for that period of closure will be issued to parents/guardians.

Bus Éireann who operate the School Transport Scheme on behalf of the Department, will shortly commence issuing refunds to families who are due to receive a refund for the unused portion of their ticket for the period of school closures arising from public health measures/Covid-19 restrictions in the 2020/2021 school year. Families will be contacted directly by Bus Éireann when their refund is being released.

Full information is available at www.buseireann.ie/SchoolRefunds.

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal, Sinn Fein)
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216. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if her attention has been drawn to the fact that medical card holders are unable to have their cards verified on the school transport portal; the effect this may have on their access to school transport in the coming school year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38613/21]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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The School Transport Scheme is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department. In the 2020/21 school year more than 114,100 children, including over 14,700 children with special educational needs, were transported on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country at a cost of over €224.7m in 2020.

Due to the HSE ransomware attack, the medical card validation process on the Bus Éireann Family portal is not available at present. Bus Éireann is working with the HSE find a solution to this issue.

Bus Éireann has contacted family account holders who used their child’s medical card for payment in the 2020/21 school year directly advising them of this issue. Advice and regular updates are also being provided on www.buseireann.ie/schooltransport

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