COVID-19 exposure impacts bus routes in Sudbury

It’s only the second week of school and COVID-19 cases are already popping up within the school district, impacting both classrooms and bus routes.

On Tuesday morning, the Sudbury Student Services Consortium put out a notice to its students and parents that four of its routes were cancelled due to exposure.

- Route N513 morning run affecting St. Charles College students

- Route N510 afternoon run affecting St. Charles College students

- Route N458 morning run affecting R.L Beattie Public School students

- Route L812 afternoon run affecting students at R.L Beattie Public School and Algonquin Public School

Officials with the consortium say that more than 100 students were listed on the affected runs.

“I was hoping it was going to wait a little bit, but I was expecting it,” said Rene Boucher with Sudbury Student Services Consortium. “I knew that it was going to come and unfortunately by looking at the numbers that we have on a daily basis, when we do have the 10, 11 cases every day, I was expecting that our children, our students would also be impacted.”

Boucher said this year, positive cases and exposure are being handled a bit differently by the health unit.

“In the past, the letter that we received from public health stated the exact timing. So it actually told us the amount of time that the bus was cancelled, that the particular run was cancelled,” she said.

“This time around, the bus run itself is dismissed immediately. However, the public health unit will continue to do its investigation to determine when each individual will be able to come back. So that’s the same for the drivers and the students on board.”

Automatic callout to parents

She said the consortium does an automatic callout to parents, followed up with an email with more information when a positive case appears on one of the routes. Boucher said it is extremely important for their records to be up to date this year.

“Yesterday when we did that to the four impacted runs, we immediately started receiving emails from parents saying their child does not take the bus," she said.

"So it’s just a little reminder to parents that if your child does not take the bus, you must let us know now because if ever there is a COVID case on the bus, we send the list to public health and public health then needs to contact all of those parents.”

This year, there are extra safety protocols in place to help keep everyone safe when they travel to and from school.

“Students are required to wear a mask and that is from JK to Grade 12,” said Boucher.

“Everyone requires a mask. The school bus driver also wears a mask. There is a sanitizing location at the front of the school bus so if drivers or students forgot to wash their hands at home prior to boarding the bus, they can sanitize their hands at the entrance. There is also seating assignments for students.”

However, she said right now with some parents still deciding whether or not their child will be riding the bus, the seating assignment is changing.

Although the Sudbury Consortium isn’t experiencing a driver shortage, there aren’t a lot of spare drivers, meaning some cancelled routes aren’t immediately rescheduled with a new driver.

“As soon as we have information, we will be sending out a call out to parents to advise them, but in the meantime we ask the parents to bring them to school and to please understand it is out of our control, unfortunately,” Boucher said.

The Sudbury Student Services Consortium updates its Facebook page often with information for parents.