Five Tips for Restarting School Bus Operations Here...
published on August 20, 2020 by Sonia Mastros
Will your school district be reopening this fall, in the wake of the coronavirus? If so, one of the biggest challenges you're likely to face is the problem of running your school bus transportation system in a way that minimizes the chances of disease transmission.
Every district will have different solutions to its problems, but we've compiled some common wisdom that should help make the restart go more smoothly.
Five Ways to Smoothly Restart School Bus Transportation After COVID-19
1. Find Ways to Minimize School Bus Loads
One thing is clear: Until COVID-19 is truly beaten, school buses absolutely cannot have three children riding per seat, as was previously normal. To do so would undoubtedly create an outbreak. Finding ways to maintain social distancing on your buses will be of paramount importance.
Investing in better school bus routing software might help. Playing around with your routes can help you explore different ways of utilizing your buses, such as having staggered class start times with multiple bus trips every morning/afternoon.
2. Make Sure Your Drivers Have Plenty of Cleaning Supplies and PPE
Buses will need to be cleaned and disinfected after each run, to prevent one batch of students from potentially infecting the next group of riders. This will require plenty of supplies, but it cannot be helped. Likewise, your drivers should have as many masks, gloves, and other PPE as you can provide.
3. When Cleaning, Avoid Mops and Other Absorbent Products
Wet cleaning tools such as mops will tend to spread contaminated materials around, rather than cleaning them up. Utilize dry methods for cleaning, such as vacuums, along with traditional sanitizing products like alcohol which evaporate quickly on their own.
4. Communicate Early and Often With Parents
Whatever your exact plans for restarting school bus transportation lines, be sure to communicate it clearly to parents as early as possible. Set reasonable expectations. Also, encourage parents to monitor their children closely for signs of any infection. If the student has a cough or a fever, they should stay home just to be safe. This is not the time to be worrying about attendance numbers!
5. Start Searching for More Drivers and Backups
One of the few silver linings here is that, because so many people are either out of work or under-employed, you may actually get a respite from the ongoing school bus driver shortage. You've got a whole new audience of people who might not have considered driving before but are now desperate for work. Start advertising and accepting applications, before other districts beat you to it.
Restarting school bus operations will be extremely tricky. Has your district come up with clever solutions to these problems? Please share them in the comments!