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COVID-19 prompts new school bus safety measures

“We always say, ‘safety first,’ and now it's even more critical in this time we're living in that we put safety first,” Charles Anderson said.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The entire school day will look different this year. For some students, that includes the ride to and from campus.

Those who ride the bus will be met with new policies and procedures.

Charles Anderson, an operations specialist for Pulaski County Special School District, said – pandemic or not – the school district has one thing top of mind.

“We always say, ‘safety first,’ and now it's even more critical in this time we're living in that we put safety first,” he said. “It hasn’t changed. Safety is still always first, and we’re still transporting precious cargo.”

According to Anderson, social distancing will start at the bus stop and continue throughout trips to and from school.

Siblings from the same household might sit together on PCSSD buses. Otherwise, riders will be staggered.

“Of course, the buses aren't full at all so the numbers will be limited based on the staggering of the seats,” Anderson said. “Certain seats will be marked off so they can't sit.”

Students will be assigned seats and load from back to front.

“On a regular route, students would be picked up and pass other students going to a seat,” Anderson said. “So, by loading from the back to the front, it keeps students from having to pass by other students. And then when they get to the school offloading that way.”

Riders will be greeted with hand sanitizer, and masks are required on-board. Drivers will sanitize seats and other surfaces between routes.

“It's a mindset change, definitely a mindset change,” Anderson said. “It's not like it used to be. We're not just getting on the bus and getting off the bus.”

Click here to view PCSSD’s “Roadmap to Reopening.”