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Leon, Gadsden counties prepare school buses for COVID-19 contact tracing

Posted at 6:50 PM, Jul 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-20 18:50:09-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Local children are scheduled to return to class in a few weeks but the bus ride will be a little different from what your kids may expect.

School districts across the area are making plans not only to help keep kids safe from the spread of COVID-19 inside the classrooms but also on their way with updated school bus safety plans.

Between Leon and Gadsden Counties, more than 12,000 school children depend on district transportation to get them to and from school every day.

"It's just not feasible for us to social distance on a school bus," said James Cole, the transportation director for Leon County Schools. "That would be extremely tough for us to do."

Leon County School district is requiring drivers, driver assistants, and all students to wear masks while on-board, stocking each bus with hand sanitizer and disinfecting after each route.

Parents can expect the same in Gadsden County, but administrators there may take a few steps further.

"When it comes to our buses we look at the possibility of having partitions on the bus but we haven't moved in that direction yet," said Roger P. Milton, the superintendent of Gadsden County schools. "We are looking at the CDC guidelines as far as numbers of students on the bus and trying to have siblings sit next to each other."

Both districts are considering assigned seating to make contact tracing easier. LCS also has cameras on their buses to refer to for tracing if needed.

But what if a driver gets sick?

"We have 142 routes and we have a total of 154 drivers so we do have more drivers than routes," Cole said. "So we have 19 lead workers and those individuals are available."

Additionally, LCS posted 10 new available driver positions just last week.

As more parents turn to digital learning, both districts anticipate ridership numbers to decrease.