‘It’s about safety': A look at the bus plan for Roanoke City Public Schools

Plan includes masks, temperature checks, disinfecting

ROANOKE, Va. – For students in Roanoke City Public Schools, safety will start from the moment they step on a school bus this fall.

Each bus will have hand sanitizer and masks.

“If the requirement is in place that a face mask be worn, we’ll check that each student has a face mask,” Durham Operations Vice President John Ziegler said.

Masks will be provided if students do not have them.

Once students are on the bus, they get a seat all to themselves.

“The cones on the bus just represent where a student will sit. It’s a good visual, every other seat, every other space if you will. Window, aisle, window, aisle,” Ziegler said, referring to the orange cones that had been placed in the seats on a bus.

Weather permitting, bus windows will be open.

“We have spray bottles that can be used for between runs, and then after each route, we’ll say a.m. and p.m. (routes), the bus will be cleaned and sanitized,” said Ziegler.

For bus drivers and aides, safety starts before they get on the bus.

“We will take the temperature of all our employees as they report to work and will log that here,” Ziegler said, referring to a table set up at the entrance to the office building at the school bus parking lot.

“We’ll use a non-invasive thermometer from a distance and practice social distancing.”

How many bus drivers and substitutes the bus company will have depends on how many are needed. That depends on the school district’s plan for the school year, which was still being finalized Wednesday.

Regardless, Zeigler is confident this year, even with the pandemic, will not be a repeat of last year when there were numerous issues.

“We’ve certainly improved what we do, right? We are better and we’ve made great strides,” said Ziegler.

If someone on a bus tests positive for COVID-19, that bus will be taken out of service for at least 24 hours to be cleaned.

When the school district will finalize a plan for the school year, including pick up and drop off times and routes, was unclear Wednesday.