Busing students back to school safely during hybrid-learning

Back to school bus safety

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - As more school districts prepare to move towards a hybrid model, the question becomes what will transportation look like on in-person days?

Buses have been used throughout the summer to deliver meals, but now students will be back on them for the first time.

Vail Unified School District is one of the first in southern Arizona to start their hybrid learning model this week and started their new bus routes and protocols.

Director of Transportation Jerry Brown said the big changes include limiting one student to a seat when possible or unless they’re in the same household. Masks must be worn at all times for all riders and drivers, with backups on board if a student forgets. Brown also said drivers are prepared to deal with students who choose not to wear their mask properly.

“This is a cultural shift for a lot of kids and you can expect some of that, so our drivers are trained to work with the children to answer the questions and reassure them of the importance of taking this precaution," said Brown.

Since students are only in class for a few days, it’s been easier to accommodate. Despite losing a few drivers who did not want to come back, Brown said they’ve been able to add routes, consolidate others, and give drivers the time needed to clean.

Between each run, whether it’s morning or afternoon, drivers must sanitize the entire bus. It’s going to become the common practice. According to TUSD’s re-entry plan on their website, when they go back, they’ll be doing similar things: face coverings required, boarding from back to front, and increased cleaning.

They’ll also be keeping an eye on the road ahead and preparing for any shifts in the school year.

“We’re comfortable where we’re at today, but where we’re at today may change as we move forward,” said Brown.

If schools eventually return to full, in person learning—at that time it would be deemed safe to have all the students back on the bus, so there wont be a problem.

For more on TUSD’s re-entry model for transportation:

TUSD's Transportation Plan listed in their Considerations & Recommendations for Tucson Unified Schools SY 2020-2021
TUSD's Transportation Plan listed in their Considerations & Recommendations for Tucson Unified Schools SY 2020-2021 (Source: TUSD)

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