A Columbia, S.C.-based school bus contractor that had been sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic resumed service last week, conducting its first athletic event trip in several months.
As School Bus Fleet reported in March, Integrity Student Transportation Services, which provides field trip and athletic trip service to private and charter schools, had all its trips canceled because of school closings prompted by the pandemic, and Karim Johnson, the contractor’s general manager, said at the time that his operation’s future was “up in the air.”
However, the contractor recently got one of its buses back on the road, transporting 21 students and two coaches to a swim meet on Aug. 15, Johnson told SBF.
In response to the pandemic, Integrity Student Transportation has intensified its sanitizing practices, complying with the South Carolina Department of Education and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Staff members now clean and disinfect the buses twice per day after morning and afternoon routes, using a handheld chemical sprayer (Integrity has ordered electrostatic sprayers, which are currently on backorder) and EPA-approved disinfectant. Several times a day, they also wipe down with disinfectant frequently touched surfaces such as handrails, and those touched by the driver.
Additionally, Johnson's staff members make sure that they are following the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products in terms of concentration, application method, contact time, and personal protective equipment, he said.
Overall, the trip went well, Johnson added, with all passengers complying with safety protocols of social distancing on the bus and wearing face coverings.
Having 13 more school athletic trips on the books as of now, with plans to transport about 334 students, as well as South Carolina seeing a gradual decrease in new COVID-19 cases recently, Johnson said he is cautiously optimistic about moving forward with business during the pandemic.
“If everyone continues to follow the safety/mitigation guidelines — especially wearing face coverings — put out by reputable public health experts, then the virus spread should get under control in my state,” he added. “I believe only then will confidence in students attending school return and my business will continue to improve over time.”