Back to School: How Ottawa school buses will change
OTTAWA -- School bus authorities in the capital are releasing their back to school plans for the safe transport of kids to and from class.
OTTAWA STUDENT TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY
Students returning to class in September who take the school bus will be asked to maintain as much distance at the bus stop as possible. In cases of larger bus stops, OSTA says the stop may be split up into multiple stops to spread children out.
Before boarding the bus, students are encouraged to sanitize their hands using personal hand sanitizer. It is strongly recommended that everyone wear a mask, including kindergarten to grade 3 students, for whom masks are not mandatory at school. Students in grades 4-12 must wear a mask on the bus.
When boarding, children will be asked not to crowd the front door, but file onto the bus while maintaining distancing as much as possible.
Students will have assigned seating, prepared by each school. Seats will be clearly numbered. Siblings are expected to be grouped together, and children without siblings are expected to be grouped with a classmate, though OSTA says this is still under review by Ottawa Public Health (OPH).
The driver is responsible for telling students where to sit. Kindergarten students will be seated at the front and a parent or guardian will meet them at the stop as normal.
"Loading capacity will be as normal, with a full load being 48-70 students, depending on the number of eligible students and their grade level. Students may be seated 2 or 3 per bench," OSTA says, noting again that OPH is reviewing, and that this information may change.
There will be deep cleaning of vehicles twice a day with an approved disinfectant.
"Once after the morning runs and once again after the afternoon runs. The handrail, a high touch area, will be cleaned after every run," OSTA says.
OSTA says parents or guardians are responsible for screening their children for COVID-19 symptoms and keeping them home if they are sick. Students who get sick at school will be isolated.
"Parents will be required to pick up their child at the bus stop or at the school immediately upon identification of a sick child. Unsupervised sick students at the stop will be isolated on the vehicle upon boarding, to the extent possible," OSTA says.
Parents who do not wish to send their children to school on a school bus are asked to opt out of transportation as soon as possible. You can find the form on OSTA's website.
You may opt back into the service at any time, but OSTA says reassignment to transportation may take some time depending on the volume of changes.
OSTA says operators will attempt to keep the same driver on the same bus every day as much as possible. Drivers will be required to wear masks unless exempt due to a medical condition. It is recommended parents prepare their children for a school bus driver in personal protective equipment (PPE), which may appear alarming at first.
CONSORTIUM DE TRANSPORT SCOLAIRE D'OTTAWA
The CTSO says the students who ride yellow buses, wheelchair buses, and vans will be required to wear masks if they are in grades 4-12. Masks are recommended for students in kindergartent to grade 3. Exemptions can be made for medical reasons.
Students who violate the mask rule may lose their school bus privileges.
Drivers will be required to wear masks, unless medically exempt.
Parents or guardians are asked to make sure their children's hands are clean before they board the bus. Students are asked to keep as much distance between each other as possible while waiting for the bus.
Windows on the bus will be open, as weather permits.
Schools will assign seats to each student. Children will be required to sit with other children from their household or from their classroom cohort. More than one child will sit in each bench.
Drivers who assist children on wheelchair buses will be required to wear a medical grade mask, a gown, and a face shield. They must wash their hands before and after assisting each student.
Bus railings will be sanitized between each run. Vehicles will be fully sanitized twice daily.
Parents who wish to opt their children out of bus use are asked to inform the consortium as soon as possible, via a form on their website.