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School transport refunds for parents under review due to coronavirus classroom closures

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Stock photo: GETTY

Stock photo: GETTY

UIG via Getty Images

Stock photo: GETTY

PARENTS have been seeking refunds for rural school transport fees in light of the closure of schools due to the coronavirus crisis.

The government said the matter is under review after it received some requests for families to get some of their money back while classrooms are shut down and buses are off the road.

There is a single charge of €350-per pupil for secondary school students up to a maximum of €650 for a family and €100-per pupil in primary school up to a maximum of €220 for a family.

Pupils whose families hold a medical card are entitled to travel for free.

Senior government official Liz Canavan said: "We are aware that queries have been raised in relation to school transport refunds in light of further extensions to school closures.

"This situation is being reviewed and decisions will be made once we know the full impact in terms of closures in the current school year."

She said that school bus contractors operating the transport scheme were paid their normal rates following the initial announcement that schools be closed in light of the exceptional circumstances.

When closures were extended through the Easter holidays they were paid 50pc for the week leading up to the beginning of the holidays "which is in line with normal unexpected closures," Ms Canavan said.

She said the Easter holiday period would have extended to April 17 and "decisions round further arrangements will be subject to review at that stage."

A Department of Education spokesperson said: “The Department is considering refunds for school bus transport costs for families.

"This will be kept under review pending decisions on the re-opening of schools and at which time the full impact on closures in the current school year will be known.”

It's understood that there have only been a small number of parents seeking a school transport fee refund.

Students have so far missed 15 days out of a school year of 183 days at primary level and 167 days at secondary.

It's understood that one possibility being considered in the review of refunds would be a reduced fee for next year depending on how many school days children ultimately miss.

This would be less complicated than processing refunds but any measures introduced will depend on consultations with Bus Éireann and how long children are ultimately out of the classrooms.

Online Editors