School transportation locally will be different this year.

That from Nipissing Parry Sound Student Transportation Services officials in a letter to parents.

Executive Director Chuck Seguin tells BayToday the biggest change is students wearing masks.

“Student transportation would be near impossible to the degree that we have to have it if we reduced the number of students allowed on a bus, or loaded on to the bus. So the mask gives us the alternative of maintaining the loads that we’ve enjoyed in the past,” he says.

“The directive from the Health Unit is where social distancing can’t be ensured then wearing a mask is the next best thing and that’s what we’re relying on to get kids to school in a safe manner,”  Seguin tells BayToday.

Along with practicing mask use with their kids, parents are also encouraged to complete board questionnaires as soon as possible, which will make the next steps in planning easier.

Planning has been underway since March and continued throughout the school closures to be ready for multiple options.


Below is the full letter to parents:

Dear Parents/Guardians

NPSSTS staff have been working on the 2020-2021 school year student transportation needs since March with the member school boards. We continued this work throughout the closures to ensure that we are ready for multiple options. We have been consulting with our 33 counterparts from across the Province to develop best practices, identify challenges, and brainstorm potential solutions and share information with Boards and the Ministry. At the same time, we have implemented plans for a safe return to work for key operational staff in order that they may better collaborate in preparing routes under a variety of circumstances.
Discussions with Boards are ongoing. Boards will be reaching out to you to solicit information that is critical to schools and student transportation planning. We encourage you to complete the questionnaires as soon as they are received and return them promptly in order to facilitate the next steps in planning. This will improve our ability to get information back to you in a timely fashion.

We anticipate that despite your child being eligible for transportation, you may choose to drive them to school. If you do so, we encourage you to consider a drop off and pick up point that is a block or two from the school, having regard for the capacity of your child to walk that distance. This will take pressure of the amount of traffic in the school zones. You can practice this with your children over the weeks remaining in the summer holiday.

As masks in public places and public transportation are mandated by the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit effective July 24th, it is recommended that you start readying your child by practicing this, and other protective measures already in place like physical distancing, hand washing, cough and sneeze hygiene and others as recommended. Normalizing these behaviours is important in ensuring the safety of all those around us, including their classmates, teachers, and bus drivers.

We are living in an ever-changing landscape and we must remain vigilant in continuing the good habits that have contributed to our success in flattening the curve, not allow complacency to set in, and above all, be flexible and adaptive to change. As you would with inclement weather, have a plan B and even a plan C in place to deal with sudden changes as they arise.

Transportation services will be different this year. There are only so many buses and drivers and over 11,000 students who are eligible to ride. Subject to decisions made at the Ministry and Board levels and the restrictions that may apply, as well as the demand on our services, adjustments may be necessary. Again, this is why a thorough and expedient return of questionnaires coming from the school boards is vital.

Please be reassured that we will do all that is humanly possible within the constraints that we are up against to meet the needs of everyone, having regard for the health and safety of all concerned.

Chuck Seguin
Executive Director, NPSSTS


(File photo above by station staff)

Filed under: covid-19, nipissing-parry-sound-student-transportation-services, north-bay-area, school-buses