Sanitized school buses the new normal across region

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 5:48 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2020 at 8:43 AM EDT
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BARRE, Vt. (WCAX) - Buses are getting cleaned daily to help stop the spread of coronavirus among Vermont students.

The Barre Unified Union School District began working on their transportation plan back in June, brainstorming the most effective way to get kids to school while keeping them healthy.

Josh Allen, the communications specialist with the district, says a crucial step is regular communication with families. He says step one for the district was communicating with families from the beginning and creating a web page dedicated to transportation to and from school. Allen also says the webpage includes guidance for on the bus, health screenings, and systematic loading and unloading.

Stacy Emerson, the operations manager for Student Transportation Vermont and Mountain Transit, says the planning for bus safety and cleaning across districts she worked with mirrored other aspects of school.

“Everything that we have discussed all summer long has been directly related to safety. You treat a bus like you do a classroom. And there were a lot of conversations every day about how to properly clean the building and protect the students and the staff and to do the same inside the school bus," said Emerson.

Emerson says equally as important is keeping the buses clean between runs.

“The process leading into the school year was closely monitoring the state guidelines and the CDC regulations,” said Emerson.

She serves multiple school districts, but their cleaning policy remains throughout. First, the driver or monitor does the general sweep of the bus looking for students or their belongings left behind. Drivers then start at the back and completely spray down the bus with a cleaning solution regulated and recommended by the CDC. That disinfectant will sit for 10 minutes. They then clean their own driving area, as well as where the students load and unload making sure to get the handrails.

“So the amount of time that is involved and cleaning solution and gloves and masks, it has all changed tremendously," said Emerson.

She says although they are cleaning more than they ever have before -- two to three times a day minimum -- it’s all part of keeping students and staff safe.

Emerson says that air circulation through the buses is key, so they will be leaving the windows down for the foreseeable future.

She also says they have found ways to systematically load and unload the bus to ensure no cross-contamination between students and, of course, they are always ready to adapt with new guidelines.

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