PRESCOTT — The Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario (STEO) is changing bus pick-up and drop off schedules for some students to reflect the reality of a new unified school day for students across the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO) and the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB). The first round of changes will be effective September 4 and will be applied to 34 schools in the North Western region of the two school board districts, largely associated with Lanark County, Smiths Falls, and some schools in Leeds County. Additional changes will be implemented across the CDSBEO and UCDSB full districts over the next three years.
The schedule changes and related bell time alignment supports consistent planning for families, the implementation of district-wide learning opportunities and significant transportation related savings, without loss of service to families.
“STEO has worked closely with the CDSBEO and UCDSB to align our schedule with the shift to new bell times across the entire region of service over the next three years,” explained Ms. Janet Murray, General Manager/CAO of STEO. “That process initiates in the North West region of the school board districts and largely associates with the Lanark County, Smiths Falls and some schools in the Leeds County area. It will create a consistent 8 a.m. start time for secondary schools and start times for elementary schools between 9:15 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.”
On average, bell time changes and the corresponding changes to bus schedules will shift by about 15 minutes to 25 minutes. School specific information can be accessed at www.steo.ca/belltimechanges
“We recognize that this may mean changes for some parents who will have to accommodate a new drop off and pick-up schedule into their daily routine,” said John McAllister, UCDSB & STEO Board Chairman. “To address these concerns, each board is actively working with parents and childcare operators to assess the need for additional support.”
To gauge the new level of childcare support that parents may need, the annual survey of parents’ need for childcare services by individual schools has been aligned with the notice of bell time changes. This will allow parents to carefully consider their own needs in light of the changes coming this fall.
“The information parents provide to the annual needs assessment is critically important to helping childcare operators so they can properly assess demand and make the necessary plans for resources in the new school year,” said Bonnie Norton, Associate Director of Education & Treasurer, CDSBEO. “The boards have notified childcare operators in the affected areas of the changes planned for this fall and advised them to expect increased demand for service in anticipation of the changes that will be detailed in the annual needs assessment survey. It makes the survey’s completion very important, and we are taking every step we can to ensure parents complete and return the surveys to their respective board before the end of the current school year.”
STEO and the boards are providing a number of resources to assist parents with specific information about how they will be directly affected by schedule changes and how they can most effectively source in-school or other childcare services if needed. This includes in-school notices to the home, email, text, social media, call centre outreach and online sources of detailed information. Parents of UCDSB students are asked to register for My Family Room so that new information, reminders and additional details can be shared with parents and students before the current school year is completed, throughout the summer and ahead of the start of school this fall. This can be accomplished by visiting www.myfamilyroom.cat
Parents are encouraged to go online at www.steo.ca/belltimechanges
STEO has set up a call centre that can be reached at 1.855.441.1589 and will be active as of May 29, and can assist parents in accessing online information and providing direction on where additional online information resources can be reached.