The 17th National Congress on School Transportation (NCST), which had been scheduled to take place from May 17 to 20 in Des Moines, Iowa, has been rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patrick McManamon, the NCST Steering Committee chair, announced in a letter on Wednesday to Congress participants and other interested parties that the committee based the decision to postpone the event on the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for mitigation of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19.
The event is tentatively rescheduled for May 16 to 19, 2021, and that many of the details involved in postponing the event are currently being worked out, McManamon added in the letter.
“We are united with the nation in having to make difficult decisions in the overriding interest of public health and safety,” McManamon stated.
Since 1939, the NCST (formerly the National Conferences on School Transportation) has been held periodically with the primary objective of ensuring safe, efficient transportation for schoolchildren. Since 1980, the 300-plus delegates from around the country who comprise the Congress have convened every five years.
Meanwhile, the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) announced in an email to state transportation directors across the U.S. on Wednesday that it is canceling its annual national stop-arm survey due to many schools being closed for weeks or longer in response to the pandemic.
“NASDPTS is canceling this year’s call for state directors and others to coordinate the voluntary collection of data on the incidence of illegal passing of school buses,” Charlie Hood, NASDPTS’ executive director wrote in the email.
This year would have been the tenth in which the survey was conducted. In last year's survey results, which NASDPTS recently updated to include Washington, D.C., 95,494 vehicles passed school buses illegally on a single day. (School Bus Fleet had reported the results when they were initially released in July; a total of 130,963 school bus drivers in 39 states reported that a total of 95,319 vehicles passed their buses illegally on a single day. That total was significantly higher 2018’s total of 83,944 passing incidents.)
Overall, the past nine years of survey data have “documented an unfortunate and consistently high incidence of illegal passing,” Hood noted in the letter.
Alternatively, Hood told SBF that NASDPTS plans to coordinate one or more surveys to assess best practices and solutions to illegal passing, rather than focusing on the number of incidents.
The surveys would ask state directors and possibly school districts questions about policies, procedures, and equipment that states are employing to cut down on illegal passing of school buses and improve pedestrian safety for school bus riders.
“Our goal is to make responding to the substitute surveys simple, while collecting information that will allow us to determine consensus best practices or sources of data that states oversee,” Hood added in the letter.
NASDPTS will work to avoid "reinventing the wheel" or duplicating information from other sources, Hood stated, and pointed to the January 2020 report from the National Conference of State Legislatures State School Bus Stop-Arm Camera Laws.