Courtesy seating too timely, say mothers
Parents with children in childcare wait until October for bus approval
It’s a new school year and some parents in the Conception Bay North area told The Compass last week September will be a hassle arranging transportation for their children.
Three mothers of children that attend school in the region are disappointed in the length of time it takes for courtesy seating to get arranged for their schools. Courtesy seating is when a parent requests to have their children go on a bus that is not along the route to their civic address or when a child lives less than 1.6 kilometres from the school.
The moms, who asked not to be identified out of fear of backlash, have primary-aged children that attend afterschool childcare. None of them live along that bus route.
An application must be filled out and handed in to the school to request a bus change each year.
On Wednesday, Sept. 9, parents of registered students at the school received a recorded message notifying them it would be at least the end of September before courtesy seating requests would be considered by administration.
The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District confirmed they have policies in place for courtesy seating.
“The school administrator should wait until October 1st before approving courtesy seats as the ( first) month of the school year is filled with numerous late registrations and student transfers. However, if it is clearly evident that all courtesy seat requests can be accommodated, the school administrator can approve requests prior to this date,” the email from a spokesperson for the district said.
The mothers agreed that they are aware there is a policy in place and that those policies are necessary so children that require bus transportation get access to it. But they disagree that it should take a month to establish how many seats are available on a route.
“In essence, schools also need to ensure that all bus eligible riders are accommodate first, prior to courtesy seating assignments being made,” the school district spokesperson explained. “We must ensure appropriate space is available before courtesy seating is provided. At times, students who are eligible to ride the bus do not begin doing so until later in September and we must ensure there is space available for them.”
One of the mothers, who is a fulltime post secondary student, said she can’t leave school in the middle of a class five days a week to bring her child to daycare.
“It’s really frustrating,” she told The Compass.
Another mother, who works fulltime, explained she doesn’t have flexibility in her schedule to come and go.
They have been trying to make other arrangements for their children to get to childcare for the remainder of the month, but are also aware that they may not get approved for courtesy seating if space does not permit.
Eligible students that request a change in route will get priority over those who live less than 1.6 kilometres to the school. There are 70 passengers allowed on each bus for primary/elementary students.
A child may also lose their priority seat with one week’s notice if another child requires use of that bus.
“As with everything we do, the safety of each student must be at the forefront and schools need to ensure arrangements are made with this in mind,” said the spokesperson.
For now, the families waiting for courtesy seating approval for daycare centres will have to find alternate transportation for their children after school.
Courtesy seating on school buses in Newfoundland and Labrador will not be determined until at least late September.