JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As school districts across the country begin the new semester, students taking the bus to school will likely have a different experience amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In early August, Student Transportation of America, a transportation contractor that operates in 22 states, released an updated list of safety protocols for drivers and students.
According to the company’s new safety protocols related to personal protective equipment, drivers will be required to wear masks at all times, they’ll have gloves available to them and they will follow any additional, stricter rules put in place by local school districts.
The new regulations outline how the vehicles will be sanitized along with loading and unloading procedures.
Buses will be loaded back-to-front and unloaded front-to-back. The protocols also call for students to have assigned seating and recommend that family members be seated near each other.
STA is one of the two transportation contractors with Duval County Public Schools. The other is Durham School Services.
The school district will provide each bus with hand sanitizer, which students will be expected to use each time they board.
Also, DCPS will distribute boxes of face masks to each vehicle so that students who forgot to bring their own will be provided one.
Is your student a bus rider? Meeting CDC guidance for social distancing on a school bus is not possible. Because of this, the following changes will be made to the district’s normal transportation processes to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. https://t.co/R7rJCsQlxu— DCPS (@DuvalSchools) August 6, 2020
These STA regulations are in addition to DCPS’s COVID-19 safety policies already in place, which include:
- A mask requirement for all students on the bus. Students who can’t wear a mask due to a medical condition can wear a plastic face shield instead.
- Frequently touched surfaces on each bus will be disinfected between each trip and the bus will be sanitized at the end of the day.
- Families have to register for a bus stop assignment, a process detailed in this document.
According to the district, approximately 49,000 Duval County students use the bus system to get to and from school, making social distancing during normal bus routes virtually impossible.
This comes as the bus drivers union, Teamsters Local 512, continues its negotiations with both carriers. As of Thursday, no deal has yet been reached, according to a union representative.