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Districts prepare to keep students safe on the bus to and from school

Published: Aug. 27, 2020 at 10:13 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - As school districts throughout central Wisconsin prepare to welcome kids back to school, some in person and some virtually, school officials are working closely with bus companies to help kids and drivers stay safe as they ride to and from school.

In the D.C. Everest district, Rothschild Elementary School principal Rena Sabey says the district has worked closely with Lamers Bus Lines to ensure student safety.

“All of the planning, we’ve all been at the same table, numerous meetings we’ve side-by-side planned how to do this safely and efficiently and make sure safety is our high priority,” Sabey said, explaining some of the new safety protocols in place. “We’re looking at families sitting together; one student per seat; washing hands before and after you get on and off the bus and then of course wearing face masks.”

Sabey also made it a point to mention the importance parents have in the process.

“Offering parents choice and letting them know the safety involved in that choice is really the partnership that we have together,” Sabey said. “Choice is appreciated, you know, parents having the option to send somebody on the bus or the safety of a pick-up.”

The Wisconsin Rapids School District and the Stevens Point Area School District are taking the same approach to the D.C. Everest district as they all try to aim for one student per seat.

“In the past the whole theory is, the more kids you get on the bus, the smoother you’re operating, the cheaper it is. Can’t do that with COVID,” said Chris Budzinski, the Stevens Point Area School District’s transportation manager. “Less kids on the bus, you don’t have three to a seat. You’re hopefully going to have less contact.”

Wisconsin Rapids Superintendent Craig Broeren agrees, saying that the district will have assigned seating in hopes to limit contact to other students if a positive case should arise.

“We’re going to have windows open when the weather allows that to happen and we’re going to have assigned seats for kids,” Broeren said, who added masks will be mandatory when on the bus. “If a positive case is identified, we’ve isolated it to perhaps two, three or four additional students rather than possibly everybody on that bus.”

All three districts are expecting less students to ride the bus during the Fall semester.

Still, the need for bus drivers continues.

“We are always looking to add drivers,” Budzinski said.

An employee with Lamers Bus Service confirmed that Lamers, too, is looking to hire drivers.

“There’s been a bus driver shortage for many years, trying to find people to be drivers,” Broeren added. “This, of course, is no different and it’s exacerbated by the pandemic.”

For those interested in being a bus driver, you need to be over the age of 18, pass a physical and obtain a CDL license.

For those interested in beginning that process with the Stevens Point Area School District, visit the district’s website here.

For those interested in working for Lamers Bus Service, visit the company’s website here.

Copyright 2020 WSAW. All rights reserved.

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