Buses lined up at the USD 383 bus barn Sunday. Each bus was inspected earlier this month by the Kansas Highway Patrol. (Photo by Brandon Peoples/KMAN)

Safety in schools is on the minds of parents everywhere, but getting kids to school safely is just as important.

“We have missed our kids and we have been out of school since March and so our drivers and our monitors are just biting at the bit to get back in their seats,” said Andrea Adams, Director of USD 383 Transportation.

Each year the district’s school bus fleet undergoes a safety inspection administered by the Kansas Highway Patrol. Adams says each of the buses checked out perfectly from that assessment earlier this month.

In addition, Adams says each bus has been deep cleaned and the department will have a more concerted effort this fall to maintain clean and sanitized buses.

“We’re going to be using an electro-static sprayer once a week on every bus. In addition to that, all of our drivers have times allocated into their schedules. After every load of students. they’re going to clean their bus with our Re-Juv-Nal product. hand wiping them down with a clean rag each time,” she said.

Bus rides will look a bit different from last time students loaded the fleet’s buses prior to Spring Break.

“Now our students are going to load back to front. and then when they get to school, we’re going to unload front to back,” she said. “With that we’re also going to have assigned seats with seating charts.”

All student riders are required to wear a face covering and use hand sanitizer provided to them while loading the bus. The buses will also operate with windows down to increase airflow, weather permitting.

The measures being taken are just a few Adams says are being done to limit the spread of germs. While good in practice, Adams anticipates there will likely be hiccups at the beginning, especially if there are student behavioral issues that need to be addressed. All of those will flow through the department’s discipline coordinator.

“If there’s something that needs immediate attention on the bus, of course the driver will pull over and address it at that time. But as far as moving seats, yes we want to keep our seating charts for close contact but we also understand there are issues that will arise, and we will have to move students eventually,” she said.

While COVID-19 protocols are seemingly front and center, not lost on bus drivers and staff is the need to keep students safe in traffic. That still remains the number one priority says Adams. Just as it takes everyone’s participation to ensure public health safety, Adams pleads to drivers to obey traffic laws around school buses.

“We’re a 43 foot yellow tank for all intensive purposes and we still have people that miss our flashing red lights, so I just encourage all drivers to please stop when they see the lights and stop sign out,” she said.

Doing so could save a child’s life.

Adams also says her department could always use more drivers, and encourages anyone interested to apply.

“There’s a shortage across the entire United States for bus drivers and there really always will be. I could probably use about five extra drivers and about five extra monitors,” she said.

Information on specific bus routes and COVID-19 protocols can be found on the USD 383 Transportation website.



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