Parents in some parts of New Brunswick upset at loss of school bus service
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- In southern New Brunswick, parents are speaking out after being told that their children won't have a seat on the school bus this year.
They say walking to school is not only an inconvenience -- it's also dangerous.
Four-year-old Isaiah will be going to kindergarten at Seaside Park Elementary in Saint John, N.B., this year. His family was expecting him to get there by school bus.
On Aug. 21, the family received an email from the Anglophone South School District about changes to busing in their area -- the lower west side of Saint John.
The school district said they would not be getting school bus service this year because of physical distancing requirements due to COVID-19.
"The letter from the school district says that they are suspending courtesy busing that falls less than 1.5 kilometres from the school," said parent Cory Hamilton.
Hamilton, who is Isaiah's father, says it's 1.36 kilometres from his doorstep to the school, so they fall short of the distance by 140 metres.
"The whole trek is uphill -- and right now is OK -- but come into these colder months, the city doesn't have the money to plow these streets let alone these sidewalks," Hamilton said. "And that's going to be forcing a lot of kids, putting them in danger onto the roads."
It's a similar story for Laura Forbes who lives just outside of Fredericton. Her oldest is going into Grade 5 and she says she's always been picked up at their driveway. This year, that will change.
"They're making us walk up our road, which is busy. There is no posted speed limit and people travel about 80 kilometres an hour on our road," Forbes said. "There's no sidewalks and especially for the winter there's no streetlights."
Simply put, she says the kids are not safe -- a situation adding more stress and uncertainty to an already unprecedented school year.
The Education Department says the decision to offer bus service to students within the walking zone varies from district to district based on available resources.