Applications for courtesy school bus seats not being accepted

School bus file photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News

School board officials in Lambton-Kent have put the brakes on courtesy school bus seats for the coming year.

Chatham-Kent Lambton Administrative School Services (CLASS) said it’s preparing for “significant school bus ridership capacity restrictions” in September due to COVID-19.

The company, in charge of student transportation for the Lambton Kent and St. Clair Catholic school boards, has announced it’s not accepting courtesy seat applications for the upcoming school year.

CLASS General Manager Kent Orr said protocols and routing for September haven’t been finalized so they don’t know what seats will be available.

“So anybody that’s affected by it, what I would recommend first is to continue to check our website, and we’ll provide updates there,” Orr said. “We’re also going to email parents directly in early August with an update on where we’re at. If getting transported to a school is a critical piece, then parents would want to think about what alternate or contingent planning they can make.”

Courtesy seats are typically reserved for students who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for a seat based on proximity to the school or other needs.

The Ontario government announced preliminary plans in June to reopen schools in the fall.

Local school boards have been asked to produce reopening plans based on three scenarios.

The plans include a full return to in-school learning, a scenario where students remain at home with online learning and an option that blends the two.

-With files from Josh Boyce