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Transportation

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At HWDSB, student transportation is provided by the consortium Hamilton-Wentworth Student Transportation Services (HWSTS). HWSTS provides safe, effective and efficient transportation services to eligible students at HWDSB as well as Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board. This may take the form of traditional yellow-and-black school buses, school purpose vans or Hamilton Street Railway transit.

Planned Rotations of Cancelled Bus Routes

As stated in a media release on September 23, Hamilton-Wentworth Student Transportation Services will begin planned rotations of cancelled bus routes, effective Monday, September 28, 2020. The cancellation rotations are part of mitigation efforts by the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board and Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board to address this year’s critical shortage of school bus drivers, which led to the cancellation of 15-18 bus routes during the week of September 14.

The rotating cancellations are to address cancelled routes, rotate service on routes delayed more than 60 minutes, and move high school runs that are experiencing delays of 30 minutes to a regular rotation to ensure that students are on time for their face-to-face learning. The strategy will cancel routes on a prescheduled rotating basis, allowing families to make alternate transportation plans for their children during their route rotation.

Please see the planned rotation of bus route cancellations on the HWSTS website.

You can also find your child’s route number and more details on the HWSTS website’s Bus Stop Finder.

Frequently Asked Questions about HWDSB transportation…

How has transportation changed during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Note: We strive to keep all information current, but please also watch our Family Updates and Board Reports for updates.

Families will be contacted during the week of August 31 with instructions on how to find bus stop times and locations on the HWSTS web portal. Parents with children starting kindergarten will be receiving letters in the mail with their bus stop information.

School Bell Times

We know that there is nothing normal or ideal for the September 2020 start-up and that many difficult decisions have and will be made during this pandemic.

Through the guiding principles of safety, minimizing disruption, ease of transition between delivery scenarios, and fiscal/human resource responsibility, routes are being planned based on existing school start/end times for all eligible riders based on HWDSB policy. In addition, we want to ensure that providers have enough time to clean buses.

We also have concerns about bus driver shortages, and more so this September, as some bus drivers might not return in September due to personal health reasons.

Routes

Routes have been planned the same way as in prior years in that many bus routes have more than one run. Many routes have buses that service elementary and secondary schools and serve Public and Catholic schools.

No Mid Day Runs

For safety, to minimize disruption, ease of transitions between deliveries, and fiscal responsibility, we are not considering any midday runs. We have also suspended our practice of courtesy transportation so that we can properly plan for seating charts for those using transportation and to ensure cohorts remain together.

We are required by the Ministry in our adaptive model to provide a study hall option for remote classes in the afternoon, which adheres to the cohorting expectations of approximately 100 direct and indirect contacts in our Secondary Schools and with public health. This also means we are required to provide transportation at the end of the day.

Parents will be required to inform us if their child will be leaving school to engage in their remote learning classes at home. Otherwise, the expectation will be that students will be in the study hall at the school.

Unlike the spring, the Ministry has been very clear that we are required to have daily attendance taken of every face to face class and remote class.

The cost to have mid-day runs would be approximately $2.5 million. This would be the approximate cost for HWDSB to provide midday buses INSTEAD of end of day runs.

The approximate $2.5 million is the cost of transporting over 4,000 secondary students using the adaptive model. We estimate approximately 125 runs would have to be added, and they would not be able to be shared.

There are always tough  budget decisions to make, and the HWDSB Board of Trustees decided to use $9 million to lower elementary class size averages in FDK and Gr. 4 to 8 for in-person classes

Intention NOT to use transportation

HWDSB re-opening plans will see elementary schools returning in September as a full, conventional model. Secondary schools are returning in an adapted model; attending school on alternate days, in either cohort A or cohort B.

Active forms of travel (e.g., walking and cycling) and private transportation by parents and caregivers are encouraged where possible to ease pressure on transportation demand. As an eligible family, we need your input by declaring your intention NOT to use transportation. The deadline for submitting your intention to decline transportation is Tuesday, September 1, 2020.  Please visit the HWSTS website and click on the large banner:

The form is set up where you would indicate your intention to opt-out of the transportation service. Your child’s Ontario Education Number (OEN) will be required to complete the form. This number is available to all parents and guardians on your child’s report card.

Junior Kindergarten families do not need to respond, as we will be asking you specifically in October, once you have access to your child’s OEN number.

Families are eligible to opt back into transportation on the following dates:

  • October 13, 2020
  • January 4, 2021
  • March 22, 2021

Transportation Health and Safety

In light of the Ministry of Education’s July 30 guidance that, “school boards may be required to increase the utilization of buses beyond one student per seat and operate closer to capacity,” and that full loading would likely be required with eligible elementary student riders because of the full return to school, the HWSTS Governance Committee unanimously approved a motion requiring all students (subject to reasonable exceptions), riding a bus to wear a mask. This includes grades JK-12.

Secondary students will ride on alternating days as per the academic cohort group to which they are assigned. Buses will be loaded one student per seat, with siblings allowed to sit together on the same seat.

Additionally, for both elementary and secondary students, a seating plan, grouping students by grade and classroom, will be developed to further cohort students while riding the bus.

Drivers of all routes will be required to wear masks at all times and other PPE as needed. Buses will be thoroughly cleaned twice per day. Also, high touch surfaces will be cleaned between runs.

How do I know if my child is eligible for transportation?

Students residing within all urban and rural areas as defined by the “Official Plans” and prepared by the local municipality, will be eligible for transportation services to their in-catchment school when the walking distance exceeds the following:

  • Elementary School, Kindergarten students: 1.0 km
  • Elementary School, grades 1 to 8 students, 1.6 km
  • Secondary School, grades 9 to 12 students, 3.2 km

Learn more in the HWDSB Transportation Policy.

How am I notified of a bus delay?

HWSTS maintains a Parent Portal. By registering with this tool, families can receive email updates when a morning or afternoon bus delay occurs. Delays are also found on the HWSTS website.

In addition, bus delays are posted to the website of the affected HWDSB schools. To avoid duplication with the HWSTS portal, HWDSB does not send its website subscribers a second email about a bus delay.

How do I contact transportation staff?

Families are encouraged to visit the HWSTS website to learn more, and to feel free to contact the HWSTS offices at (905) 523-2318 or 1-800-691-6402 with any questions.

How does severe winter weather affect transportation at HWDSB?

The decision to remain open or to close is always made with the safety and security of our students and staff in mind. When a decision to close is made, it is does so in conjunction with our colleagues at the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board based on relevant information at that time.

School Boards across Ontario have varying polices about the cancellation of schools. At HWDSB, the cancellation of transportation due to inclement weather immediately triggers the closure of our schools.

Please remember, as a parent/guardian you always have the choice on whether or not to send your child to school. HWDSB will NOT post a weather alert on its website to signal that schools are open.

Frequently Asked Questions about HWSTS…

Please visit the HWSTS FAQ web page.

Updated on Thursday, November 05, 2020.
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