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How some bus companies are preparing for students heading back to school

“While on the bus, we have social distancing guidelines, children are not allowed to sit together unless they are from the same household."

MERIDIAN, Idaho — Earlier this week, Central District Health moved all Ada County schools to the yellow level for coronavirus community spread, which means those schools can start phased in-person learning. The move to yellow means you will probably start seeing a lot more yellow buses back on the road, and that's bringing up a lot of questions and concerns about student safety. 

“We're going to do everything we can to make sure that children get to school safe and on time, and I want to reiterate, safe,” said Vice President of Operations for Student Transportation of America, William Zimmerman. 

Student Transportation of America owns Cascade Transportation, which serves the West Ada School District. Zimmerman says when the West Ada School District goes back to in-person learning Monday, both the bus drivers and students riding the bus will be required to wear a mask.

“While on the bus, we have social distancing guidelines children are not allowed to sit together unless they are from the same household,” Zimmerman said. 

The company is also changing the way students get on the bus.

“We load the buses from back to front and then unload it in the reverse order to make sure there's the least amount of contact as possible,” Zimmerman said.

Students riding the bus in the Boise School District will also similar measures, according to Boise School District spokesperson Dan Hollar. It's all part of the district’s Transportation Pandemic Operations Plan.

KTVB also checked in with pediatrician and CEO of Primary Health Medical Group, Dr. David Peterman. He told KTVB there aren't a lot of studies out there when it comes to COVID-19 and school buses, but he does have some additional recommendations for all school bus companies. 

“Depending on the whether I would like the windows open,” Dr. Peterman said. 

He adds while there isn't a lot of control over the distance students are traveling on the bus, the shorter the distance and the less time students are on the bus, the better. 

“The longer you're in a confined area we at least have evidence to say that's a greater likelihood of being exposed to coronavirus and actually leading to infection,” Dr. Peterman said.

West Ada welcomes students back to the classroom on Monday. The Boise and Nampa school districts won't start in-person learning until Sept. 21.

“Rest assured, the drivers that drive the school bus they're not just driving a school bus for the paycheck, they care about kids,” Zimmerman said. “They're going to follow everything that has been put forth to make sure those children are safe.”

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