Government has purchased 16 new vehicles for public primary and high schools in the Cayman Islands.
The total cost for the vehicles was $745,752, according to the Department of Education Services.
Eight schools, as well as the Special Support Practice Unit and the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre, on Grand Cayman have each received a 28-seater Toyota Hiace bus, while six schools on Cayman Brac have each received a 16-seater Toyota Hiace van.
“I like our new bus,” said George Town Primary School Year 1 student Alexandria Foster, during a bus-handover ceremony, attended by government officials, at the school on Wednesday. “I’m ready to go to the turtle farm,” she added.
Her classmate Cyra Edwards said she wanted to go the Cayman Islands National Museum. “Before this, we went on the big yellow bus, now we have our own bus,” she said.
Barbara Conolly, councillor for education, who attended the ceremony, said, “One of the great things about the procurement of the buses [is] they will be better able to ensure that students are safely transported to and from field trips and extracurricular activities.”
“Field trips help to enhance the learning experience by bringing to life those lessons that are taught in the classrooms,” she added.
Conolly urged students and staff at the school to take care of their new bus. “By doing so, you will ensure that you will be able to benefit from it for a long time,” she said.
Joey Hew, minister of commerce, planning and infrastructure, commended the role the Parent Teacher Associations, faculty and members of the community had played in obtaining the buses.
“This is your bus that will take you to field trips, to sporting activities … this is the bus that takes you out of these gates to fun stuff, so you have to take care of it. No writing on the seats, no scratching, no chewing gum, all those things,” Hew told the children.
He said they would take many memorable trips in their new bus and urged them to leave it in mint condition for the next generation of students.
Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, whose ministry purchased the vehicles, harkened back to her days in school on Cayman Brac while encouraging the children to keep the bus in good shape, recalling she “had to walk over a mile to get to school. When the Brac finally got use of an [old red] bus with an open back, the children had to climb over its side rail and pay 5 cents,” she said, adding that they had thought at the time that they had arrived in the modern world.
Deputy principal Carol Gopaul said the school would be able to use the bus to help the children get to know “the whole of the Cayman Islands”. She added that the school would have to file a request with the Department of Education for a bus driver to be deployed when needed.
David Wight, councillor for sports, and Kenneth Bryan, George Town Central MLA, also delivered remarks at the ceremony.