Schools with in-person instruction are starting to open their doors as year-round academic calendars start in July and August. School transportation departments are coping with this harsh transition. Some of the nation’s largest school districts made the decision of starting remote instruction for the new school year, but how does that affect non-instructional staff like bus drivers and dispatchers?
Guiding the Conversation
Three major student transportation associations have created the Student Transportation Aligned for Return to School (STARTS) Task Force. The National Association for Pupil Transportation, the National School Transportation Association, and the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services created this group in order to develop resources to be used “in the design and development of school opening plans […] in a time of COVID-19.”
The 70-page report offers a solid starting point for school districts nationwide. The report discusses creating a cohort system that attend split schedules. It also provides modified response plans to support the safe return of students with disabilities and special needs. The goal is to provide practical information to help prepare and protect student transportation provides.
There is also a guide for independent school bus drivers and transportation directors a comprehensive plan with action items. The items include guideline and tasks that are contingent on the decisions that school districts reach about open their doors. The report also comes with a Transportation Reopening Gantt Chart to make project management easy for the transportation directors, location managers, and state directors of transportation to focus on making the plan and delegating tasks.
STARTS said we are “fixing a plane in flight and you are not sure exactly where it is going”. There is unfortunately no model in creating the new normal that all of us want to have. Navigating 2020 has been difficult, and we’re just hoping for the best. The school bus is a safe way to go to and from school, and it should continue to be that. This report and its resources are a solid starting point, regardless of what the schools will do for its students.