As students come back, how are buses made safe?
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — Student safety is the first question on everyone’s minds when considering reopening schools for in-person classes. As younger students are returning to classrooms as an option, some parents who rely on the bus system may be wondering how safety will extend to transportation to and from school.
Will there be measures to fight COVID-19 on bus routes?
“We have tons of plans in place,” Everett School District spokeswoman Kathy Reeves said.
Everett began bringing students with special needs onto campus last week.
The Monroe School District has preschool, kindergarten, and special needs students attending in-person, and the Snohomish School District planned to give students in kindergarten through second grade the option to return to classrooms this week.
At the Everett School District, students on the buses will all be expected to wear a mask, and if they do not have one, the bus driver will provide them with one. Students will each have assigned seats on the bus based on class cohorts or siblings, and they are recommended to dress warm in the winter months as the windows will all be cracked to ensure optimal ventilation.
Further safety according to the Everett School District falls on the parents and families of students. Before a student leaves for school, parents must check their child’s temperature and attest that they are also symptom-free as required by state Department of Health protocols.
In the Monroe School District, parents will be similarly expected to check their children for symptoms and present this health screening to the bus driver before their students can ride.
The Monroe School District expects reduced ridership on its buses, which will facilitate social distancing. Students will be seated starting at the back of the bus and filling in to limit face to face contact in the aisles and windows will also remain open to ensure ventilation.
District spokeswoman Tamara Krache said the district is already incorporating these measures in buses today.
“We currently have buses transporting students who are back for in-person, hybrid learning: developmental preschool, kindergarten, students in the special education program, community-based program and those furthest from educational justice,” Krache said.
The Snohomish School District is taking similar measures to continue offering bus transportation safely when hybrid schooling begins in early February.
Parents will have to fill out an online form attesting their child is symptom-free rather than in-person like other districts. Students and bus drivers will be expected to keep masks on at all times. Buses will be filled back to front to ensure social distancing as well.
All districts will disinfect surfaces like rails and the backs of seats on buses between routes.
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