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PERMITTING HAND SANITIZER ON SCHOOL BUSES REMAINS A LOCAL DECISION

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Hand sanitizer is likely something most people probably have been carrying with them since the start of the pandemic, if not sooner. But related products are prohibited on all New York state school buses, for example. Yet other states nationwide have provided exceptions and allowed its use, going as far as authorizing dispensers on board.

Springdale Public Schools, located north of Fayetteville, Arkansas, installed hand sanitizer dispensers on all 174 school buses in an attempt to improve hand hygiene. Trisha Labit, the district’s school bus safety coordinator, said her department made sure to get permission from the Arkansas State Department of Education before installing.

She added that the staff chose a nonalcoholic substance, to be sure it wasn’t flammable and installed the dispensers near the front stairs. The district went with the brand Germ-X Fresh. When buying in bulk, the district receives dispensers free of charge.  Labit said not only are the dispensers located throughout the entire fleet but the entire transportation facility as well. The school buses are also equipped with spray bottles that school bus drivers will use in between routes, prior to the next group of students boarding.

Meanwhile, other states like New York remain opposed to onboard hand sanitizer. Reopening school guidance released on July 16 states that “School buses shall not be equipped with hand sanitizer due to its combustible composition and potential liability to the carrier or district. School bus drivers, monitors and attendants must not carry personal bottles of hand sanitizer with them on school buses.”

Randolph Jerreld, transportation director at Rotterdam-Mohonasen Central Schools, located near the state capital of Albany, said his district is communicating with parents to be sure student’s hands are clean before they enter the school bus. Staff will also be encouraging students to use the hand sanitizing stations inside the school buildings once arriving to school.

Morgan Paris is the market development manager for GOJO Industries, the inventor and makers of Purell. She said the company is currently working with school districts to understand their needs on school buses. GOJO is currently providing four main products to school districts to help promote a safer transportation environment. Two of the main products are bottles of hand sanitizers and dispensers.

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