First day back: New safety protocols are in effect on school buses

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Health safety has been a top priority for the reopening of schools, which includes student transportation.

School buses are under new precautions due to the coronavirus pandemic. The following rules are in place for students riding a Duval County Public Schools bus:

  • Students have to wear a mask or face covering on the buses.
  • If students do not have a face mask, they will be available on the buses.
  • Students will load the bus from the back to the front.
  • There will be a seating chart and students will sit in their assigned seat each day.

Duval County said social distancing on buses is not really possible because the district does not have the money to buy the number of buses needed to allow for it.

But some students are staying home for online learning and many others will be dropped off by their parents, so the hope is that there will be fewer students on buses than in previous years.

While the district would like to put one child per seat, they can’t do that on every bus, but there will be a maximum of two students per seat and siblings or kids who share a house will be the first to sit together.

Face shields will be worn by bus drivers and they can wear gloves if they choose.

Students will have to use school-provided hand sanitizer when they get on and off of the bus. Commonly touched areas like seatbelts are supposed to be cleaned between each trip.

Bus stops

It’s the first year families are being asked to register their children for transportation and phones at the district’s transportation center have been flooded with calls from families asking where their child will be picked up.

For now, the district said, if you haven’t gotten confirmation of your child’s bus stop info, go to the one closest to you until a bus stop is assigned.

The district said Duval County bus stop information is now posted online and added that it still encourages parents to register for bus transportation and seek confirmation of their official bus stop.

More than 1,100 families signed up for bus transportation in the last 24 hours, the district said Thursday morning, so there are more than 29,000 total riding buses this year.

School zones

For the first time in months, kids will be back out at bus stops and some kids will be walking or riding their bike to school.

There are more cars out on the road and school safety zone restrictions are in effect again for the first time in months.

According to the National Safety Council pedestrians should follow the following safety rules near school zones:

  • Walkers should stay on a sidewalk
  • If there is no sidewalk, walk facing the traffic.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street and make eye contact with drivers when crossing
  • Avoid distracted driving

Drivers going through school zones need to slow down. Also, remember school zones are hands-free. The law went into effect last year. If you’re caught in a school zone with a phone in your hand, you’ll have to pay a $60 fine and have three points added to your license.

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