School bus

Even though classes are set to resume on June 1, Central Okanagan school trustees are being advised by district staff to cancel all school buses for the remainder of the year.

Schools will partially re-open on June 1 but school buses in the Central Okanagan may not return to local streets.

Trustees are to be asked Wednesday to formally cancel regular transportation services and offer parents a 30 per cent refund on fees already paid.

There are too many "operational and safety factors" that would need to be overcome to get the yellow buses rolling again, school district staff say.

With only about half the district's 23,000  students expected to return to class - for two days a week for elementary schools and one day a week for middle and high school students - officials say it would be impossible to configure an effective system of school bus routes on such short notice.

The age and health of the district's 87 school bus drivers are also concerns.

Forty-seven drivers are over 60, and 77 of them are over 50.

Some of the drivers are "immune-compromised" and would not likely return to their regular work under current conditions, district staff say.

School bus drivers have continued to receive their paycheques even though schools have not been in session since mid-March. The drivers have been tasked with other duties, such as cleaning schools.

More than 5,500 Kelowna-area students were riding school buses to class before on-site instruction was suspended.

While the provincial government has said school districts should consider adding plexiglass shields between the driver and students, the report going to trustees on Wednesday says federal regulations would not allow for any such modification.

The Vernon-based school district has already cancelled its school bus service for the rest of the year.