JULY 7, 2020 - TRANSPORTATION SUBCOMMITTEE MEETING
Transportation Subcommittee Meeting 7/2/20
Assistant Superintendent, Administrators, Teacher, Parent, Director of Transportation, Board of Education President, Bus Driver, Director of Business Services/Safety Officer, Principal, Assistant Principal and School Nurse
The Assistant Superintendent welcomed everyone and thanked them for being part of the Transportation Subcommittee. He asked everyone to share their thoughts and concerns regarding transportation and the reopening of school.
The parent asked if the children were going to have their temperature taken prior to getting on the bus. Also she was wondering how many parents were going to be driving their children to school.
The Assistant Superintendent said that there was no decision yet on taking temperatures prior to children boarding their bus. That today was about getting input, ideas and thoughts. He explained that we are legally obligated to transport children to school. If a parent decides to drive their child we still have to plan as if they were taking the bus.
The parent had the following suggestions:
- Hand sanitizer on buses that children must use upon boarding.
- Tissues available for each child.
- Face masks that have the CCSD logo to keep it uniform
- Scatter one child per seat or row.
- More monitors on the buses.
- Install signs on the back of each seat to remind the students about social distancing and PPE.
- Strict cleaning protocol adhered to.
- Bus windows should be open to fresh air year around.
- Parents who choose to drive their children also cannot have bussing available.
- Is it possible to purchase more buses?
The parent had the following thoughts and concerns.
- Not sure about checking for fever upon boarding the bus. Her daughter has COVID-19 and did not have a temperature.
- Hand sanitizer should be on the bus.
- Assigned seats on the bus.
- Could there be a cleaning crew in between the runs much like a “pit crew” to clean the touch points.
- Less students on the bus.
- Install fans along the inside of the bus.
- How do we protect the driver?
The teacher said he echoed the thoughts of the members who just spoke. He thought we should hire more monitors for the buses and liked the idea of signage on the buses.
Teacher and Parent
The teacher agreed with everything that was stated thus far. She asked about the after school programs, JCC and Festaville. If these programs are cancelled it will add more children to the buses after school. She had the following questions and suggestions:
- Can children of staff members be transported to the staff members school if after school programs are cancelled?
- A shower curtain can be installed to divide the bus driver from the students.
- Loved the idea of hiring more bus monitors.
- When students arrive at school in the morning where will they go once they get off the bus?
- Concerned about the air ventilation system on the buses.
- If the students are wearing masks/gloves how do we make it comfortable for them in warm weather?
The Assistant Superintendent said that the health and safety committee also was concerned about where the students will go upon arrival. Recognizing the gym and cafeteria may not be a solution. As far as pre and afterschool programs are concerned in order to keep schools safe the District may have to limit community use. Our buildings are used for sports and various activities and programs. Our buildings are also widely visited during the day ie., parents dropping off lunches, notebooks… After school services are important to working parents. More to come..
Social distancing may be hard on the bus and in the classroom as children are very social and like to hug and kiss their friends. Make masks a “cool’ thing to wear. She feels that maks are the best defense and most cost effective for little ones. Some other ideas she had:
- Families sit together in the same seats on the bus everyday.
- Clean the buses in between runs.
- Hire more monitors
School Nurse-Secondary Level
The school nurse has worked on all three levels during her time with the District. Some of her thoughts and concerns were:
- It will be difficult with the younger ones to social distance and keep masks on.
- Echoed everyone's thought regarding families sitting together on the bus.
- Not sure about taking temperatures as it may be a false sense of security.
- One of her biggest concerns is that there is not enough data regarding children as carriers of COVID-19. Children can be asymptomatic but can be carriers.
- What happens when a child gets sick during the day? Where will they stay until a parent comes to pick them up?
- Every child who comes to school may have COVID-19. How do we track students' movements to mitigate the spread?
- Majority of the people who live in Rockland County make their living outside of Rockland. Parents who work close by or their emergency contact can pick up the student but what do we do with parents working outside of Rockland who cannot leave work.
- In the high school on occasion the Transportation Department has picked up students when there has been no other way for them to get home. Has to be a child who can go home alone and we get permission from the parent.
- Can we have a sick van?
The Assistant Superintendent suggested a well area and a sick area. One area does not affect the other.
One of her main concerns was for the safety and health of the bus drivers and to make sure they have the tools to do their job safely. She liked the idea of hiring more bus monitors and echoed everyone’s suggestions.
The Assistant Superintendent agreed keeping bus drivers safe and healthy will help to keep our children healthy and safe. Bus drivers are like surrogate parents and parents rely and trust the drivers.
Some suggestions and thoughts the Principal had were:
- Daily cleaning protocols
- Masks and social distancing
- Suggested that plexi-glass be installed on top of the bus seat to keep the students from reaching over the seat to the student in front or behind them.
- Where do they go when they get off the bus? Possibly unload one bus at a time and they go straight to their homeroom.
- Scheduling cohorting how will transportation work? Multiple shifts?
The Assistant Superintendent- For transportation as you cohort it aligns with neighborhoods not grades. Keeps the community together who will likely socialize with one another. The installation of plexiglass by September is not likely but there are other precautions we can take.
Principal- Elementary Level
The Principal had the following thoughts and concerns:
- From a developmental point of view kids are going to touch everything. They will put their hands in the crevices between the bus seats.
- Likes the idea of plexiglass on back of seats.
- The buses need a deep cleaning daily.
- Thinks that temperature checks may catch some children and prevent spread.
- Likes the idea of hiring more monitors.
- Unloading procedures will have to be changed. The children will have to be trained. Maybe called by name, seat or row and social distance upon unloading.
- Have students watch videos so they see it, hear it and practice it until it becomes second nature.
Director of Transportation
Some of his concerns and thoughts:
- Main concern is safety for the bus drivers and the students.
- PPE and hand sanitizer is a good idea.
- There must be protocols for students.
- There are 114 routes and each driver has 8 routes a day. There are four tiers in the morning and four in the afternoon. Drivers have only 25 minutes to complete each tier which will make sanitizing between routes difficult.
Our transportation department travels to 65 locations outside of our school district.
- Contact tracing- we must be able to trace where the bus went and who was on it.
- Likes the idea of siblings sitting together.
- Pointed out the difference between 3 feet and 6 feet social distancing and how it changes how many students will be transported.
- All about logistics and timing.
- Any changes/additions to the buses must be approved by the DOT.
The Assistant Superintendent stated we move 8,000 students a day to 65 locations outside of the 13 district schools. The logistics are massive. In the summer, the department figures out the route picks and tries to minimize the time the students are on the bus.
Board of Education President
The Board President thanked everyone for being on the committee and for all their thoughts, concerns and ideas. She stated there could be three scenarios: full time school; integrated part-time in school and distance learning; or all distance learning. Waiting on the Governor for direction.
She also said we need to think about all the things we need to order and it may need to be expedited. Liked the idea of more monitors.
The Board President asked the Director of Transportation- “What is the possibility of getting more buses?” He said that along with the expense that if you ordered a bus it may not come till next year. Also, space to park the bus is an issue.
The Assistant Superintendent stated that we are ahead of the curve in regards to PPE. He commended our Safety Officer for staying ahead of the ordering. We ordered 20,000 masks in April. Face shields may be needed for speech and world language. There are different shields, some come in the form of a hat. Also said the Director of School Facilities was looking at polycarbonate instead of plexiglass. Plexiglass is not allowed per fire code.
The Director of Transportation stated that the DOT has not approved polycarbonate for the buses. The bus driver and students need to get out in the case of an accident. Nothing can be blocking their escape route to the hatch if the bus rolls over or if there is an accident.
If 50% of the students are on the buses, the Assistant Superintendent said with a little creativity and adjustments we should be able to accommodate a hybrid model of instruction.
Board of Education President- Issue of monitors- She supports monitors on the busses. What can we provide especially for the younger children?
Director of Business Services/ District Safety Officer
She stated she was really impressed with proactive thoughts and research. It is a big high stakes puzzle. She really appreciates the feedback from the users of service and providers of service. July 13th the SED should have some final guidance.
An Assistant Principal asked “Can we only bus within our District?”
The Assistant Superintendent said if our students go to other schools we are required by law to provide busing and can go up to 15 miles for private school and 50 miles away for special education.
The Director of Transportation thanked everyone for their ideas and input. He said he will work very hard to get the job done.
The Assistant Superintendent thanked everyone for their participation, thoughts and ideas.