New Bus Éireann School Transport policy for red weather alerts
Services in an affected area/s will be stood down in the interest of pupil safety
- All services provided by Bus Éireann under the School Transport Scheme will be cancelled in the affected area if a Status Red weather warning is announced for all or part of a given day*
- Risk to pupils walking to and waiting at pick-up points on minor country roads – and travelling through these on board a bus in very poor weather conditions – is mitigated
- Met Éireann advice in a red weather alert urges that “action to protect” should be undertaken and that includes “staying indoors” in certain cases
- Decision to cancel services will be made locally by regional School Transport Office, who will inform schools
- It remains the independent decision of each school whether to close in a red alert; some schools do not have a high proportion of students who use the school transport scheme
Bus Éireann will – with immediate effect – stand down school transport services when Status Red weather alerts are issued nationally or regionally, as part of a new policy.
The policy has been put in place in the interest of pupil safety, and in line with advice issued by State bodies regarding actions required during these rare warnings.This has been communicated to parents of pupils who avail of these services – via email or letter – and the full policy is available on www.buseireann.ie/StatusRed
Bus Éireann operate the School Transport Scheme on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills (DoES), and there has been significant consultation with DoES regarding this new policy.
Met Éireann recommends that in the event of a Status Red Weather Warning families “take action to protect themselves and/or their properties; this could be by moving their families out of the danger zone temporarily; by staying indoors; or by other specific actions aimed at mitigating the effects of the weather conditions.” Meteorological conditions affect the operation of school transport very differently to how they affect schools themselves – which are fixed buildings – and the transport of pupils in such conditions, could pose a risk to their safety.
In developing this policy, account was taken of the ‘Be Winter Ready’ booklet produced by the Office of Emergency Planning, which has advice on measures that could or should be undertaken during a Status Red weather alert.
This policy has also been communicated to the school management bodies – who make independent decisions on school closures – in the same way it was communicated to parents.The Government Task Force on Emergency Planning – which contains a significant number of State bodies and semi-State agencies – was also briefed on this policy recently.
While we acknowledge this policy may cause some inconvenience, our main concern is child safety, and the mitigation of any risk or threat to that.
* In the event that a Status Red warning in place in the morning is downgraded at or before noon, services – which do not operate in the morning - will operate as normal at school closing time.If a Status Red warning is not downgraded until afternoon or later in the evening we will endeavour, where possible, and with the assistance of emergency services if necessary, to bring children home. In these circumstances Bus Éireann will keep schools and media informed of school transport service developments.
For further information please see www.buseireann.ie/StatusRed
Monday, 2nd November, 2015