School bus services are being put at risk by pupils refusing to wear face masks and use hand sanitiser, East Lothian Council’s head of education has warned.
Nicola McDowell has urged parents and carers to speak to young people amid reports of increased incidents of non-compliance during bus journeys.
She has warned the council only has a “finite number of drivers”, with home-to-school transport facing disruption if they are forced to self isolate or catch Covid.
Ms McDowell, who took on the role in June, also defended the decision not to allow families to attend nativity plays and Christmas concerts this year.
The decision, which follows Scottish Government guidance against allowing additional people into schools, has sparked some anger from parents.
However, Ms McDowell insists the council’s strict approach will keep schools open as well as avoiding families risking having to self isolate over Christmas itself.
She said: “I make no apologies for saying we are taking a very strict approach, we have to do that.
“We would love to be celebrating not holding back the celebrations, for the staff as well as families, this is something everyone looks forward to so we are doing what we can in the classrooms.
”Schools are allowed to have Christmas parties within their own classrooms so we will be having that type of event and ensuring there is lots of festivities for our pupils.”
Parents and carers across East Lothian are being sent letters this week by Ms McDowell explaining the nativity decision.
In a separate letter also due to go out, she appeals for help keeping school bus services on the road.
She said: “The risk of not having transport is that the staff are not well. The incidents of non-compliance has increased with some pupils taking off their face masks and not using the hand sanitiser on the buses.
“It increases the risk of transmitting Covid and we only have a finite number of drivers.”