Although the number of school districts opting to begin the new school year with online learning only continues to rise as COVID-19 numbers increase nationwide, pupil transporters ponder issues including driver health concerns, student mask monitoring, and extra costs.
Two California school districts which also happen to be among the largest in the U.S. — Los Angeles Unified School District (USD) and San Diego Unified School District (USD) — announced on July 13 that they would begin the new school year online only. Most school districts in the state would start the new school year with online learning and no in-person instructions,
Since then, large districts in Georgia, Texas, Virginia, and Maryland, have joined them. Atlanta Public Schools plans to open the 2020-21 school year with “a full virtual learning model,” according to a news release from the district on August 24, and Cobb County (Ga.) School District will do the same on Aug. 17.
Meanwhile, two districts in Virginia — Fairfax County Public Schools and Loudoun County Public Schools — and Maryland’s Montgomery County Public Schools reversed plans to kick off the 2020-21 school year with a combination of remote and in-person learning and announced a switch to online only,
Despite changing plans brought about by the resurgence of COVID-19 in many areas of the U.S., pupil transporters still grapple with issues that loom when students will eventually need transportation to school, such as driver health concerns, student mask monitoring, extensive new cleaning procedures, and extra costs. Many drivers are older and have underlying health issues which may prevent them from feeling safe returning to work.
Making sure students wear masks is another concern for bus drivers. Drivers are unable to devote the time to enforce students wearing masks aboard the bus, and more staff members may be needed to monitor students and help with bus sanitation.
Districts across the country already had a shortage of drivers – this could only make things worse.