Masks, cleaning, minimal social distancing required on Polk Co. school buses

Polk County

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Forty-six percent of Polk County parents intend to send their children back to campus for in-person learning if and when classes resume on Aug. 24, according to results from Polk County Public Schools’ intent registration form.

The results show 45% of parents registered for campus e-learning, which would allow children to stay with their schools but attend virtually. Nine percent of parents signed up for Polk Virtual School, an option that existed for students before the pandemic.

Nearly 50,000 people responded. The school district has extended the deadline through Sunday for parents to submit their intention.

A majority of respondents intend to send their kids back to school on the school bus.

“There’s really no way to social distance on a school bus and the CDC guidelines say when possible, to do that,” said Rob Davis, assistant superintendent of Support Services.

When students board the bus in the morning, they must sit from the rear to the front. Students must also sit in order of their bus stops on their way home.

“We have to work with the school hand-in-hand to make sure that the students that get off last are in the rear of the bus and the students that get off first are in the front of the bus,” Davis said.

Polk County Public Schools is hiring more bus attendants to help.

“We’re in a need for more bus attendants so we will definitely see where we can use more bus attendants on the bus especially in situations with today and what’s going on. We will have definitely have them and they will play a big part in assisting the drivers,” said Chrystal Robinson, one of the district’s trainers for bus drivers and bus attendants.

The school district will not follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that recommend one student per seat with an empty row in between.

“We did the math and that’s 13 students so it would take all day to get students to school and by the time we got them there, it would be time to turn around and take them home,” said Davis.

Instead, two students will be placed in each seat.

The school district is planning with a full campus in mind. Students could be more socially distanced if fewer students return to campus learning.

Students will have to wear face coverings while on the bus unless they have a waiver from a doctor.

During their work session Tuesday, school board members also agreed to require masks for all K-12 students while at school. A formal vote is pending.

Courtesy Polk County Public Schools

Hand sanitizer stations have been installed on every bus. Students are encouraged to use them before boarding.

Before their morning and afternoon runs, bus staff will have their temperatures checked before getting on the bus. No staff member with a temperature above 100 degrees will be allowed to board.

Staff will also wipe down the high-touch areas between picking up high school, middle school and elementary school students.

“After the morning run, they’ll do another deep cleaning which we’ll use a product that we spray on, it sits on the surface for 10 minutes and it’s wiped off or it dissipates,” said Davis.

Courtesy Polk County Public Schools

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