Making Social Distancing Work on a School Bus
published on March 17, 2021 by Sonia Mastros
If your school is maintaining in-person classes during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, your district should be doing everything possible to reduce the chances of disease transmission. This is a major challenge - especially on school buses! As a small enclosed space, school buses are perfect for spreading a disease that thrives through person-to-person contact.
The only good solution is to maintain social distancing rules, even on the bus. This won't be easy, but it's better than having a major outbreak at your school. Fortunately, we have a few tips to make this task a bit easier.
Five Ways To Improve Social Distancing on School Buses
1. Require Masks
Every child on your school buses (and all adults) need to be wearing masks. It really is that simple. Make this mandatory, but also be sure to provide boxes of surgical masks so the driver can hand them out to any children who are going without.
Otherwise, the number of kids you can safely transport on your buses will be so low that it becomes incredibly inefficient.
2. Don't Seat Children Next To Each Other
Even if everyone on your bus is wearing a mask, it's still unsafe to put students too close to each other. In general, the rule should be one child per seat, and alternating window-aisle-window-aisle so no one is sitting directly behind anyone else.
If they aren't wearing masks? The only safe option is to have one child on every other row. That reduces the safe capacity to only seven students per standard bus. Again, just require masks.
3. Students Who Cohabitate Are an Exception
No matter what, your bus capacity is going to be reduced, so take advantage of any exceptions you can. In particular, if children are siblings or otherwise live together, go ahead and put them on the same seat. They're already in close contact, so you won't be increasing the danger.
4. Mark Seats With Colored Tape
Tape is a cheap and easy way to indicate which seats can be used, and which should be avoided. For example, putting large red X's on prohibited seats should be clear to almost any rider. Of course, this should be monitored closely by any adults on the bus to ensure the children comply.
5. Put Barriers Around the Driver
One of the easiest ways to help keep the driver safe is to install plexiglass barriers around their seat, to partition them off from the children. These barriers should also qualify for reimbursement under current school relief funding bills, so they shouldn't cost much in the end.
Has your district found any other effective ways to maintain social distancing on your school buses? If so, please let us know in the comments!