Louis Riel School Division increases number of school buses to ensure student safety

School buses. Global News / File

As the beginning of the school year approaches, concerns remain about whether Manitoba students will be able to stay safe as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.

One Winnipeg school division has taken steps to help — adding 25 additional school buses to its fleet starting in September.

The Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) announced Monday that, following a summer survey of area parents, it was determined that bus transportation is needed for around 2,400 students in the division, after 500 parents said they would be making alternative arrangements.

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“With the current Manitoba health and safety regulations in place for transportation, we knew it was going to be a challenge to provide the same capacity of service for our entire community,” said assistant superintendent Henri Peloquin.

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“As we reviewed the results, the parents of approximately 500 students, or 20 per cent of eligible riders, indicated they were able to make alternate arrangements.

“The reduction in ridership has helped us focus our efforts on building a solution for the remaining 80 per cent of students who need safe school bus transportation.”

Global News reached out to other school divisions across the city and found they are not experiencing the same problems.

LRSD is currently working on recruiting and hiring additional bus drivers for the September start of the school year.

The return to classes during the pandemic remains a work in progress as the school year approaches, with the Manitoba government pledging a total of $52 million for school divisions across the province on Monday.

The one-time program, called the Safe Schools fund, can be accessed by all Manitoba divisions on a per-student basis, said education minister Kelvin Goertzen.

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“We know that our education system needs to be ready to deal with today’s pandemic reality as students and staff return to the classroom,” he said.

“Our government is delivering the financial support to help school divisions meet that need.”

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Manitoba education minister announces another $52M for return to school fund'
Coronavirus: Manitoba education minister announces another $52M for return to school fund

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