BARTOW, Fla. - When it comes to social distancing for schools, buses present an especially large problem for many districts. In fact, the six-foot rule is a standard even the Florida Board of Education says is unattainable in classrooms and on buses as students head back to school this fall.
The Polk County School District is counting on safety measures like masks, hand sanitizer and cleaning procedures to work when students can’t stay six feet apart.
The district has released safety guidelines to keep both students and school bus drivers safe on board.
Face masks: Required for both drivers and students, unless a student has a signed exemption from a healthcare provider.
Temperature checks for drivers: Self-screening required before shifts.
Seat capacity: Limited to two students per seat. Students will be assigned a seat for the semester.
Hand sanitizer: Stations located at each bus entrance. Students required to use hand sanitizer when they board and exit the bus.
One-way traffic pattern: Students will load the bus from back to front and unload front to back.
Air flow: Weather permitting, windows should be lowered and roof hatches opened to increase circulation.
Cleaning: School buses are to be cleaned multiple times per day.
A list of frequently asked questions about Polk School reopenings can be found here: www.polkschoolsfl.com/reopening
The CDC‘s guidelines for safe school reopening measures recommend seating kids one per seat and leaving every other row empty.
Polk school leaders say meeting that recommendation would require additional buses and drivers that the district simply doesn’t have. The district says they may be able to allow for extra distancing on buses if enough families opt for eLearning this fall, but nothing is guaranteed.