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Calls for face masks on school transport after reports of overcrowding on buses in Portadown and Lurgan

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There have been calls for face masks to become mandatory on schools transport after reports of overcrowding on buses in Portadown and Lurgan this week.

Alliance Councillor Eóin Tennyson has said the Education Minister must now act on the issue, which is causing many parents worry and concern.

“Recently a number of parents have been in touch expressing concerns in relation to overcrowding and a lack of face coverings on school transport between Lurgan and Banbridge,” explained Councillor Tennyson.

“I’m also aware of similar issues affecting school transport in Portadown.

“Pupils from a variety of classes and schools mix on these services which is incredibly worrying in the context of 64 schools confirming positive cases to date and the high rate of transmission of Covid-19 in the Craigavon area.”

Councillor Tennyson did however pay tribute to Translink, who responded “diligently and quickly provided a larger bus”.

“They continue to closely monitor capacity and are working to deliver school transport in line with Department for Education guidelines,” he added.

“However, even with these interventions,” said Councillor Tennyson, “it remains the case that on many school buses it is simply not possible to practice adequate social distancing. This remains a huge concern for pupils, parents and teachers alike”.

“It makes little sense for face coverings to be mandatory on public transport, and for secondary school pupils in school corridors and communal areas, but not on school buses.

“I have written to the Department for Education highlighting these concerns and would call on Minister Weir to address this anomaly.”

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