In response to the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacting pupil transportation, mainly due to school closures, many school district transportation departments have shifted to putting some buses into service to deliver meals, instructional materials, and Wi-Fi to students, trying to employ as many drivers and other staff members as possible.
Still, while working with a skeleton crew on diverted duties, how can pupil transporters plan for the upcoming school year, which is an activity many transportation departments would typically be engaging in at this time of year? And what will the beginning of the new school year look like? What potential changes should be planned for?
On Wednesday, School Bus Fleet hosted a webinar, “Returning to Service Post-COVID: Are You Prepared?” A panel of industry experts — Max Christensen, an executive officer for school transportation at the Iowa Department of Education; Derek Graham, a consultant and former state director of pupil transportation in North Carolina; Pam McDonald, director of transportation at Orange Unified School District in California; and Michael Shields, director of transportation services at Salem-Keizer Public Schools in Salem, Ore. — discussed ways to optimize time during school closures to get ahead on back-burner responsibilities that will still demand attention once schools reopen. Tasks addressed included getting routing, inspections, IEP requests, and testing up to date; scheduling tests during DMV closures, and forming plans for remote work in case it is still required this fall.
Panelists also provided insights on how to deal with protecting drivers, cleaning buses, factoring social distancing into routing plans, how driver shortage may be impacted by school closures, and the possibility of taking students’ temperatures as they board buses.
The webinar was sponsored by connectivity solution supplier Kajeet, school bus market supplier Safe Fleet, and school bus routing software supplier Transfinder.
To listen to the webinar on demand, go here.
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Drivers from more than 150 of the school bus company’s locations deliver meals and instructional materials during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some also transport medical workers.
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The recommendations include seating one student every other row, increased cleaning and disinfecting of buses, and drivers wearing cloth masks.
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The director of transportation for the School District of Manatee County (Fla.) discusses springing into action at the onset of the pandemic to provide meals, mobile devices, and connectivity to students and potential long-term impacts on student transportation brought about by the COVID-19 crisis.