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Reopening Report Card: How bussing will change as a result of the pandemic

Bussing changes will go into effect immediately due to the coronavirus.

CLEVELAND — Before students in Northeast Ohio get to school, the ride there will be different compared to past years. Charles Smialek, the Parma City Schools Superintendent says that’s mainly because of the Cohort A and B school schedule.

“The fact that we’re going to be at half capacity will inherently lower the number of students we’re transporting on any one given day,” says Smialek.

Eric Gordon, CEO of Cleveland Metro School District says since school bus drivers are on the bus the longest, they have to be safe.

“The first thing is to protect the driver, the drivers do need to have masks, need to have gloves, need to have access to sanitizer. We did this all last spring and summer as we ran our food shuttles so we know it can be done,” says Gordon.

When it comes to students filling school bus seats, they will be required to sit apart.

“We look forward to very easily socially distancing on busses, but we’ll also require the facemask and we’ll also have hand sanitizer really at every turn for our students,” says Smialek.

CMSD students who take public transportation will still use that mode of transportation. The district says its actively working with RTA to make sure all students can seamlessly get back and forth to school. When it comes to kids on the district busses, there are new safety procedures to follow every ride.

“Seating from back to front with one student or one family of students per seat. That creates some social distancing particularly with the higher backed bus seats, and then sanitation fog in between each run to ensure that the vehicle itself is continuing to be safe and clean,” says Gordon.

If you’re nervous about letting your child use a school bus, keep in mind, not every kid who used to ride the bus will need to this school year.

“Just under ten percent of our population has elected into the Parma Virtual Learning Academy. The second piece is we’re appealing to our parents to drive their students if they can,” says Smialek.

School leaders say there are so many things they are trying to finalize right now that they had to work out transportation early on since those logistics would matter before the school day starts. Both leaders say the plans are set, however if there is a drastic change in Covid cases that forces the Governor to order a shutdown that includes schools, all transportation plans will pause until students physically return to school.