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No hand sanitizer on school buses, driver shortage adds to challenges of reopening

Back to School: Facts First

GREECE, N.Y. (WROC) — Hand sanitizers have played a big part in preventing the spread of the virus. But as schools reopen – you won’t see them installed in school buses. 

Students won’t even be allowed to bring them on the bus. Under the state’s reopening guidance for school transportation, concerns of its flammable component is what restricts the use of it. It also states, school bus drivers, monitors, and attendants must not carry personal hand sanitizer bottles with them. 

The state department of education recommends schools instead consider a policy of giving students hand sanitizer when they’re entering the building or in the classroom.

“We know students are going to be probably transporting hand sanitizers on the bus,” said David Richardson, Executive Director of Student Operations for Greece Central School District. “I am thinking about the elementary students that have the little bottles hanging off their backpacks, right? Are we going to confiscate that and make that child’s life difficult? no, but we will be reminding students they can not be using hand sanitizers on the bus.” 

Richardson assures parents that the state mandates bus drivers to disinfect inside the bus after every route and wipe down the high touch areas. Buses will be cleaned daily – a deeper clean weekly and electrostatic sprayer that will be only done on extended weekends.

Meanwhile, bus driver shortage continues to be an issue, even before the pandemic. More drivers are going to be needed as staggering student’s schedules are anticipated to have an impact. GCSD is still hiring bus drivers and attendants to meet the need.  

MORE | Monroe County Federation of Teachers calls for delay on in-person learning in schools

Greece Central’s plan on bus routes is to keep them as is. According to Richardson, the routes may have to be smaller and there may need to be more buses going out to do routes for individual schools. Since they also serve more than a thousand non-Greece Central students.  Right now they’re looking at their current driver’s availability and staff.  They have letters of assurance and have a base line number of drivers and attendance that they’re counting on. But they anticipate any possible changes.  

“Realizing the changes and in their daily responsibilities, the cleaning protocols that are going to be in place and their own health and well being they may say, you know what, this isn’t for me. We are anticipating some of that, as all districts are,” said Richardson. “Teachers included right. So that’s something we’re going to have to match up  is staff and the number of runs we have and how we cover those. That’s part of the work in the next couple of weeks.”  

Richardson says hybrid scheduling and parents choosing to transport children themselves would reduce the need for more buses.

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