Altoona Area School District plans for social distancing in school buses

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ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — Due to the ongoing pandemic, the 2020-2021 school year is going to be extremely different from anything anyone is used to.

As the first day of school draws nearer, schools around the nation are scrambling to come up with plans on how to get kids back into school safely. One thing on the list to talk about is school bus transportation.

Given the size of a school bus, the big question is how kids will remain a safe distance away from each other while still getting the transportation they need.

According to Student Transportation of America, which runs school buses for the Altoona Area School District, the plan is to group families together in seats and load the bus up from back to front. “We’re going to control the flow of students in and out of the bus so we will minimize the amount of contact kids have with each other,” said Director of Operations Tim Tokarsky.

Bus drivers and students will both be required to wear masks at all times while on the bus and drivers will have to disinfect the bus before and after each use.

These extra precautions naturally mean extra expenses, says Tokarsky. The school district is therefore asking parents of kids who may have previously used the bus to let the district know if they are not using the bus this year.

“That will help us when identifying our bus runs [and] our number of students on a bus,” said Paula Foreman, the Director of Community Relations at the Altoona Area School District, “that will help us minimize the numbers because we are reducing the numbers on buses.”

Parents with kids who are taking the bus this year are asked to check their children before putting them on the bus to make sure they are feeling well.

Once at school, the kids will be put through a health screen in their homerooms.

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