School bus operators in Simcoe County anticipating some absenteeism based on illnesses

School bus drivers have been provided with N95 masks

The wheels on the school buses are going round-and-round.

In-person learning returns to Ontario schools on Monday, and another key part of the education system that is also going back is school bus drivers.

John Barbato, chief executive officer of the Simcoe County Student Transportation Consortium (SCSTC), says there is the potential for delays due to driver absenteeism.

“Our operators have been working diligently to hire and train drivers throughout the winter break and the past two weeks,” says Barbato.

He says parents will need to monitor the SCSTC website for morning and afternoon bus updates, which will also be provided to the media.

As of late last week, school bus operators told the SCSTC they had drivers for every route and there are some spare drivers.

“But again we are anticipating, like all sectors, some absenteeism based on illnesses or other reasons.”

COVID-19 safety protocols on school buses really haven’t changed much since the start of the pandemic, and follow rules laid out by the Ontario government and local public health guidelines.

Drivers and students will be required to do daily self-assessment screening before getting on the bus. There is mandatory masking for drivers and all students on the vehicles and assigned seating for students will continue, as will enhance cleaning protocols on vehicles.

“In January, the government made N95 masks available to school bus drivers,” says Barbato. “Those masks were delivered to all of our drivers in Simcoe County last week.”

Additionally, the government has provided the drivers with access to accelerated vaccine appointments, and they will also receive two rapid antigen tests.

The Simcoe County Student Transportation Consortium (SCSTC) provides student transportation services within Simcoe County for the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) and the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board (SMCDSB)