Harris County (Ga.) School District treated its two new 2021 Blue Bird buses, along with the rest of those in its fleet, with a three-year antimicrobial surface protectant. - Photo courtesy Harris County School District

Harris County (Ga.) School District treated its two new 2021 Blue Bird buses, along with the rest of those in its fleet, with a three-year antimicrobial surface protectant.

Photo courtesy Harris County School District

The Harris County (Ga.) School District has taken delivery of two new school buses that are hitting the road this week and treated them — along with the rest of the fleet — with an antimicrobial surface protectant.

The 2021 Blue Bird conventional school buses are replacing two 2003 buses, which will rotate into the district’s fleet of spare buses, Cheryl Johnson, the district’s transportation director said in a news release.

Yancey Bus Sales and Service of Macon, Ga., completed the initial installation of the transportation department’s standard equipment, such as the four-point camera system and LED lighting. Since the buses arrived in late August, the transportation department’s fleet technicians installed final touches such as the two-way radios, lock boxes, and conducted a final inspection before the buses began transporting students.

Along with the rest of the district’s fleet, the new buses were treated with a three-year antimicrobial surface protectant, which is designed to safely and continuously eliminate germs, bacteria, viruses, and other harmful microorganisms, Johnson said.

“Prior to the start of the school year [on Aug.10], the entire bus fleet was treated with this antimicrobial protection, including the air-conditioning systems,” she added.

In addition to purchasing the two buses, as the new school year has gotten underway, the district has implemented safety procedures to protect staff and students from the coronavirus. Johnson shared several of them with School Bus Fleet:

  • Requiring drivers, monitors, and students to wear masks at all times while on the bus.
  • Making student seat assignments farther apart than normal.
  • Separating students by what school they attend to control spread from one school to another.
  • Preventing the use of the seat directly behind the driver.
  • Forbidding guest riders at any time.
  • Not transferring students from one bus to another unless necessary due to a mechanical issue and student safety is a concern.
  • Placing siblings together.
  • Tracking attendance daily.
  • Spraying an antiviral on the buses on the last school day of each week.
  • Conducting contact tracing when there is a confirmed case and contact.

With the new buses replacing some that had been in use for 17 years, the total number of buses transporting students on daily routes remains at 80. While each bus has a morning route, in the afternoon, 20 of the buses pull double duty to accommodate Creekside School’s different release time for a total of 100 afternoon routes.

The 2021 72-passenger buses were purchased at $92,850 per bus for a total of $185,700. Of that total, $77,220 of the cost of each bus was paid for by state allotted bond funds, which is a total of $154,400. The balance of $31,300 for the two buses will be paid with Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (E-SPLOST) funds. E-SPLOST is a one-cent sales tax voted on by the citizens that the school district can use for capital purchases such as buses, building construction, renovations and repair, technology, safety upgrades, furniture, and equipment.

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