School Climate & Safety

During Pandemic, Managing School Buses Will Be a Year-Round Concern

By Corey Mitchell — July 21, 2020 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The decision by a growing number of school districts to go with online-only instruction in the fall has bought time for administrators trying to figure out how to get students to school safely amid a global pandemic.

For those schools forging ahead with in-person instruction, a new report underscores that, for school transportation directors, the first day of school will definitely not mark the last day of planning: The unpredictable, evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic means that no one knows how long their first attempt at solving the student-transportation puzzle will be effective.

The 70-page planning tool and study from the Student Transportation Aligned for Return to School (STARTS) Task Force surveyed state transportation directors, district transportation directors, bus contractors, and superintendents from across the country about their looming concerns and how they made or are making their bus scheduling decisions.

The most significant takeaway from the report is that schools must expect to adjust their transportation plans on the fly as local health conditions change. Schools with relatively low community spread now may face spikes in coronavirus cases in the coming weeks and months. So, schools starting with in-person instruction this fall should begin planning in October for what transportation will look like in the second half of the academic year.

“The continued uncertainty associated with the scope of virus mitigation efforts will demand that transportation operations continue to engage in targeted and systemic planning processes throughout the school year,” concludes the report, a collaboration between the National Association for Pupil Transportation, National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, and the National School Transportation Association.

The survey found that school districts’ three biggest concerns are: new cleaning requirements for buses, managing seating capacity, and determining whether it was possible to modify buses to provide barriers between students and between students and drivers. In response, the task force identified 27 guidelines to help districts navigate the transportation portion of the complex roadmap for reopening schools.

Formed in May, the task force also sought to tackle questions about which students get to ride buses, how to protect bus drivers and transportation department staff, and how to ensure the safety of students with disabilities who may have difficulty in adhering to the social distancing requirements and masking recommendations outlined in federal guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s a look at the report:

Student Transportation Aligned for Return to Students, or STARTS, Task Force Report by corey_c_mitchell on Scribd

Related Reading

Getting Kids to School: Tackling the COVID-19 Transportation Problem

Solving the Student-Transportation Conundrum

In a Pandemic, Who Gets to Ride the Bus? And What About Those Who Don’t?

Staffing Hard-to-Fill Bus Driver Positions in a Pandemic

Getting Students With Disabilities Back to Class

Managing Buses May Be the Hardest Part of Reopening Schools

Photo Credit: Bristol, Va., Public Schools Superintendent Keith Perrigan shows the new seating configuration on the school buses for the upcoming school year. A maximun of 22 students can be on the bus

-- David Crigger/Bristol Herald Courier

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety What the Research Says A Hallmark of School Shooters: Long History of Social Rejection
New research finds that shooters in K-12 schools are more often "failed joiners" than loners.
5 min read
Butler County Sheriff Deputies stand on the scene at Madison Local Schools, in Madison Township in Butler County, Ohio, after a school shooting on Feb. 29, 2016.
Sheriff deputies were on the scene of a shooting at Madison Local Schools, in Butler County, Ohio, in 2016.
Cara Owsley/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP
School Climate & Safety 4 Myths About Suspensions That Could Hurt Students Long Term
New longitudinal research shows that longer in- and out-of-school suspensions have severe consequences for students.
5 min read
Image of a student sitting at a desk in a school hallway.
Jupiterimages/Getty
School Climate & Safety Photos The Tense and Joyous Start to the 2021 School Year, in Photos
Students are headed back to school with the threat of the Delta variant looming. How is this playing out across the country? Take a look.
School Climate & Safety Former NRA President Promotes Gun Rights at Fake Graduation Set Up by Parkland Parents
A former NRA president invited to give a commencement address to a school that doesn’t exist was set up to make a point about gun violence.
Lisa J. Huriash, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
2 min read
David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, speaks during the CPAC meeting in Washington on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2010.
David Keene, the former president of the NRA, promoted gun rights in a speech he thought was a rehearsal for a commencement address to graduating students in Las Vegas. The invitation to give the speech was a set up by Parkland parents whose son was killed in the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP