Covid19 Return to School Busing

Covid19 Return to School Busing

The Waterloo region returns to full-time in-class instruction for elementary students and half-time half-day in-class instruction for high school students on September 8. In light of this and with time and resource limitations, STSWR has created the following plan for the safest transport of your child.

Parents are required to assess their children before sending them on the bus. Any child showing symptoms at school will be isolated and not permitted to be transported home on a bus.

Your Options 

If you are uncomfortable with this current and necessary arrangement, the Ministry of Education is recommending active travel (cycling, scootering, walking) as a safe and healthy option that will reduce demand on busing transportation. We know active transportation boosts immunity, provides fresh air, builds lung capacity and health, contributes to mental health, and increases focus in the classroom. Contact us for help route mapping and other resources.

If you feel you must drive, please consider the dangers of traffic congestion at the school site, and plan to park a short distance away to ensure the space is safer for all our students. Check our website’s walk zone or contact us for “Drive to 5” maps that show safe and legal parking options a short distance from school.

Opting Out of Transportation

If, based on the information provided, your child is in the bus zone, but requires partial or no busing, please fill out the “Do Not Ride Form ” located on our website. As the pandemic continues, these forms will assist STSWR with accurate headcounts as we plan for September and further changes to school opening during the school year. For younger students, it is especially important to ensure your child is not assigned to a bus in error and inadvertently put on a bus at the end of the day if you are expecting them to walk or be picked up.

You may opt out of busing altogether or for either morning or afternoon busing only. The form lets your school, your bus driver, and STSWR know that your child will not be taking the bus in one or both directions. If your child qualifies for busing you can opt in again at any time throughout the school year by using the same form.

When STSWR receives the “Do Not Ride” forms from you, your child will be removed from the bus list accordingly for the morning, the afternoon, or both.

Vehicle Capacity

Elementary 

Big Bus

  • regular seating
  • up to 3 students per bench from JK – grade 6
  • 2 students per bench for grades 7 & 8
  • maximum 70 students per bus

Small Bus

  • regular seating
  • maximum 20 students per bus

Wheelchair Bus

  • 2 per bench
  • maximum 3 or 4 wheelchairs per bus

Van

  • no students in front seat
  • maximum 5 students per van

Taxi

  • no students in front seat
  • maximum 3 students per route

Secondary 

Big Bus

  • siblings will sit 2/bench
  • all other students will be assigned a bench to themselves
  • variable maximums per bus depending on number of siblings

Small Bus

  • 1 per bench
  • maximum 10 students per bus

Wheelchair Bus

  • 1 per bench (wheelchair = 1 bench)
  • maximum 8 students per bus

Van

  • no students in front seat
  • maximum 2 students per vehicle

Taxi

  • no students in front seat
  • maximum one student per taxi except for siblings

Seating Plans

All students will be required to follow a seating plan for both the morning and afternoon routes.

Seating plans are mandated by Public Health for Covid19 tracing purposes. In the instance that a student or bus driver tests positive, Region of Waterloo Public Health protocols will be followed. All bus drivers will be taking attendance for both morning and afternoon routes to assist in the contact tracing process.

Seating plans will be prepared in advance in collaboration with STSWR, bus drivers, and schools; and they will be maintained by school administration in consultation with bus drivers once the school year has begun. Each bus will have a seating plan posted at the front of the bus and each bench will be numbered 1-24 to assist students with their assigned seating.

  • Each student will be assigned a bench number from 1-24.
  • The seat behind the driver will remain empty whenever possible.
  • Siblings will sit together.
  • Outside of sibling seating, planners will group elementary school students by grades.
  • Kindergarten students will be seated closer to the front of the bus whenever possible.
  • For secondary students, each student will occupy one bench except in cases where there are siblings.

Secondary Cohorts

Secondary cohorts will be arranged by STSWR during the summer months, and will be maintained by school administrative staff after school opens. All secondary school boundaries have been divided in half to balance the number of transported students in each cohort. Walkers will be added to cohorts using these same boundaries as a general guide.

After school starts, requests for changing cohorts will be managed through school administration who will take into consideration the impact to transportation since coverage is limited on specific days and transportation may not be available to the area with the other cohort.

Secondary Cohort Calendar

Black Out Period

Changes to transportation, cohorts and seating plans will be very limited for the following time periods:

Waterloo Catholic District School Board – August 14th to September 15th

Waterloo Region District School Board – August 24th to September 15th

These blackout periods will assist STSWR, schools and bus operators in preparing for the first day and into the first couple weeks of school.

Personal Protective Equipment (Students)

Since physical distancing cannot be maintained on buses, students are required to wear non-medical grade face masks.

While school boards may be distributing masks, you may also wish to source your own collection of masks that comfortably fit your child’s face. We encourage all parents to teach their children how to safely use a face mask to ensure they are effective. Should your child forget their mask, their bus driver will provide them with a standard-size disposable mask before boarding the bus; however, masks will not be supplied to students on a daily basis.

Children are asked to wash their hands before they leave home. Hand sanitizer will be made available to all students.

All requirements and actions apply to both morning and afternoon routes.

Personal Protective Equipment (Bus Drivers)

All bus drivers are required to wear a mask while transporting students. Each driver will also be given the option of wearing a face shield when students are boarding or exiting the bus as an extra precaution, but this is not required. Face shields may be kept on hand for use where drivers must assist students directly in case of an emergency.

Drivers will be provided with and have access to hand sanitizer at all times.

Cleaning of Buses

High touch areas (handrail and the top of seats) will be wiped down after every run with cleaning and disinfectant wipes. Once a day, buses will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

Buses will be cleaned with disinfectant approved by Health Canada with a proper DIN number.

Cleaning of Taxis

Wipe down with disinfectant wipes high touch areas (seat belts, door handles (inside and out), door panel, backs of front seats, etc).

Driver wears a mask

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