PSS implements school bus Covid-19 safety rules 

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THE Public School System has started to implement Covid-19 safety measures for its school buses and bus shelters.

Although PSS prefers remote learning to ensure the students’ safety amid the pandemic, Education Commissioner Alfred B. Ada said the school system is also conducting hybrid classes, which are a combination of online and face-to-face sessions.

For face-to-face instruction, Ada said the PSS Office of Transportation has put in place new rules to ensure the safety of students when they are transported from the bus shelters to the campus.

PSS Transportation Director Shawn San Nicolas said the rules are in compliance with the governor’s directives in response to Covid-19.

To protect the students on the bus, PSS has modified the seating capacity, San Nicolas said.

The number of student passengers, for example, has been reduced to 22 from 40 to 60, he added.

This means that a row of seats, which usually accommodated two to three students, will now  only accommodate one.

The bus itself will be sanitized more often and children’s temperature will be taken before they board the vehicle. They are required to wear a face mask throughout the bus ride.

Education Commissioner Alfred B. Ada, left, and Larry Hocog, headmaster of Dr. Rita H. Inos Jr./Sr. High School pose next to a school bus during  the education officials’ recent visit to Rota schools. Contributed photo

“We need to comply with directives on social distancing and other safety measures to ensure that we protect the students and staff on the bus,” San Nicolas said. “We need to ensure that we transport the students to school on time and safely.”

Parental responsibility

At bus shelters, San Nicolas said, “we are hoping that parents educate their children in making sure that they follow the three W’s — wash your hands, watch your distance and wear a face covering.”

“At the bus stop, it is really the parents taking that responsibility,” he added.

He said once the children board the bus, PSS then applies its own rules to safeguard their safety.

San Nicolas said it is also important for the parents to chaperone their children at the bus stop and stay with them until the children board the bus.

If a student has a temperature that is over 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit, the driver will not allow the child to board the bus.

But San Nicolas said they also do not want to leave children behind at the bus stop all by themselves.

“That is why we request the parents to chaperone their kids, especially the young ones. It is a big safety concern for us,” he added.

To avoid crowding at the bus stop, San Nicolas said PSS has come up with  “staggered” pickup and drop-off schedules.

Once the first bus has reached its capacity, he said a second bus will pick up the remaining students at the bus stop.

San Nicolas said there are two-hour gaps in the schedule to avoid having too many children at the bus stop at the same time.

Because many of the students are attending classes online, San Nicolas anticipates that the number of children taking bus rides will be significantly less this school year.

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