Saskatoon transit lockout affects high school attendance

The Saskatoon transit lockout is ongoing and it's affecting the attendance of some high school students.
Cheyenne Marasky depends on the bus to get to and from school. She says she's missed classes because of the transit lock out. (Patrick Sauve/CBC News)

The Saskatoon transit lockout is ongoing and it's affecting the attendance of some high school students.

Cheyenne Marasky is a Grade 12 student at Oskayak High School in Saskatoon. She mostly depends on the bus to get to school and home.

"It's really hard, and sometimes I can't get to school in the mornings," she said. "I really want to get to school on time."

She's not the only one. Of the more than 300 people that are registered students at Oskayak High School, more than half missed class on Wednesday.

Oskayak High School is experiencing a significant drop in attendance. The school says it all started after the transit lock out. (Patrick Sauve/CBC News)
Most of these students depend on transit to get to school, the assistant principal Darcy Blacklock said.

These absences are abnormal, she said. Attendance is usually high in the first month of school.

Scott Gay, the assistant superintendent of the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, said he worries for the students who can't make it to class.

"Here at Oskayak, they run a block system," he said. "So students are creating fewer classes, but for longer each day. At this point, each day that a student misses has double the impact."

The lockout doesn't affect elementary students quite as much because those who live far away and can't get rides take school buses that an independent company operates. High school students have to find their own way.

Trying to solve the problem

Gay said the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools board is looking into hiring a bus to pick students up from an area where the greatest number of absentees live. The buses can carry 72 passengers, but if more students need a ride to Oskayak, they may look into acquiring a second bus.

In the meantime, some staff members from other Catholic schools are going out of their way to get students to school.

"I really hope they [the city and transit union] do something about it soon," Marasky said. "Getting to school is really hard." 

Saskatoon Public Schools report the lack of public transportation is affecting students negatively, but it's difficult to determine whether absences are caused by the lockout or something else, like illness.

A representative said some teachers and principals have noted that students are saying the lockout is affecting them, but they don't have numbers at this point.