MANILA — The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board is allowing the return of school transport services as many schools return to in-person classes this month.
Elementary and secondary schools would no longer be allowed to implement distance and blended learning by November, the Department of Education had announced. According to DepEd, public and private schools in basic education can implement distance and blended learning only until October 31, 2022.
School Year 2022-2023 is scheduled to open on August 22.
In a statement released on Friday, the LTFRB said school transport services with active Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) or Provisional Authority (PA) as well as those with expired CPC but with pending Application for Extension of Validity to operate are now allowed to resume operations.
"Transport services with expiring CPCs dating from 31 March 2022 to 31 August 2022 have been allowed to file an application for Extension of Validity, with the LTFRB waiving penalties," it said.
"This is in recognition of the adverse financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on operators and drivers of school transport services. LTFRB will also waive penalties for school service units with pending confirmation from 31 March 2020 to 31 August 2022," it added.
The school transport services allowed to operate must also comply with the following conditions:
• Secured windows (steel-grilled)
• Seatbelts for all passengers
• Working portable fire extinguisher
• “STOP” and “GO” signages to be carried by the conductor when children cross the street
• Wearing of prescribed uniform by the drivers and conductors.
The LTFRB said operators should also observe health and safety protocols:
• Regular examination of the drivers and conductors' fitness to work by checking their body temperature and screening for any symptoms of COVID-19.
• Regular disinfection of frequently touched surfaces, such as but not limited to seats, armrests, and handles.
• Mandatory wearing of face masks at all times by drivers and conductors, including passengers
The LTFRB also said that it is considering opening more than 100 routes — particularly within the university belt and other areas with a high concentration of students — to meet the expected increase in passenger demand.