School officials consider bus safety while developing reopening plans

School districts are undertaking the most important task of all, with an abbreviated time frame, and a fast-approaching deadline: keeping students safe. And that responsibility begins before students even step foot in a classroom.

Posted: Jul 23, 2020 5:46 PM
Updated: Jul 23, 2020 6:22 PM

School districts are undertaking the most important task of all, with an abbreviated time frame, and a fast-approaching deadline: keeping students safe.

And that responsibility begins before students even step foot in a classroom.

"A couple of things that are a probable necessity are going to be masks for the drivers and the matrons and the children, of course," says New York School Bus Contractors Association President Corey Muirhead. "Hand sanitizer stations or bottles on each vehicle....disinfection spray on each vehicle to go over highly topical areas such as seat backs, guard rails, hand rails, seatbelts."

NYSBCA provides guidance and insight to member contractors, including Birnie Bus, which transports Utica School District students. President Muirhead says detailed guidance from the state has been sparse. But what he has an endless supply of, are questions.

"If you're wearing masks, do you still need to be six feet apart? That's a big question and clarity that we need," said Muirhead. "We're not exactly sure if we need to socially distance on a school bus." Muirhead adds that social distancing on a school bus might be difficult, if not impossible, to execute.

"Normal day you see 50 children ride this bus, how do you conform to social distancing and cut that vehicle down to 11 kids? It's impossible. It's economically and logistically impossible."

The Utica City School District is trying plan, with Birnie Bus. They've met twice, but more meetings are needed.

"They have canceled a couple of meetings on us but we are trying to reschedule right now because we're giving them information on what our needs are so they can start routing the buses," says Utica School Superintendent Bruce Karam.

Utica plans to submit their reopening plan to the school board on Tuesday, for their approval. All of the planning could be for nothing. The plans are due to the state by July 31, and the governor is going to let districts know if they can bring kids back, and to what extent, the first week of August.

Karam says, "We're not leaving any stone unturned. We're gonna do everything we possibly can to make this opening of school very safe for all of our students and teachers."

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1967248

Reported Deaths: 51258
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings2600639889
Queens2597329511
Suffolk1908893300
Nassau1750233097
Bronx1727466359
New York1300554297
Westchester1243172235
Erie799591683
Richmond696201739
Monroe597381032
Orange45423782
Rockland45245940
Onondaga35490659
Dutchess27510432
Albany23368343
Oneida21251497
Niagara17780332
Broome17129348
Saratoga14167160
Ulster12791241
Schenectady12252190
Rensselaer10495136
Putnam1005291
Chautauqua8227132
Chemung7052133
Oswego687690
Ontario674091
Steuben6192141
St. Lawrence612594
Sullivan598968
Cayuga579490
Jefferson539263
Wayne513967
Cattaraugus503780
Genesee5005121
Herkimer4868107
Clinton446532
Madison423885
Tompkins400349
Fulton398086
Livingston393658
Montgomery3817114
Columbia379999
Cortland350760
Warren333355
Tioga331658
Wyoming320451
Allegany313383
Otsego311846
Greene307774
Chenango301873
Washington280355
Orleans270283
Lewis242033
Franklin237012
Delaware211236
Seneca184656
Schoharie150315
Essex148526
Yates109226
Schuyler97713
Hamilton2982
Unassigned16592
Out of NY0216
Rome
Cloudy
50° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 50°
Binghamton
Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 45°
Rome
Cloudy
50° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 50°
Rome
Cloudy
50° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 50°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve
Enter the Rock Your Body Giveaway from Alivana Aesthetics
Looking for work or looking to hire? Check out the WKTV Job Fair!