This is the second article in a series on school transportation and how it has changed since the start of the pandemic. Before the holiday break, we discussed how transportation to school looked before the pandemic. Around the country, parents and schools/school districts were exploring different options such as carpooling, biking, and public transport as an alternative to the traditional school bus. Since late March, schools have changed dramatically. So naturally, school transportation has changed as well.
Getting to School amidst COVID-19
The reaction of schools to the pandemic was not uniform across the country. Some schools and school districts went fully online, while others chose a hybrid method of online and in-person classes. Some chose to go back to in-person instruction very early on. You can learn more about the different strategies to the return to in-person instruction by Tyler Barton and myself. For the schools that kept some in-person classes, their transportation was more limited than before the pandemic hit. Many public transit systems shut down or limited capacity making it difficult for students. Some schools discontinued the use of school buses unable to meet the CDC guidelines and lacking the funding necessary. As for biking, it is incredibly difficult to ride a bike with a mask on, making it not the safest option. So, what could be a COVID Safe option? Carpooling!
Though it has risks, there are ways to make carpooling to school safer for students and parents.
COVID Safe rides are possible when families agree to these suggested steps.
- Require everyone in the car to wear a mask.
- Limit the number of students per car.
- Maintain airflow in the car to reduce the flow of virus particles1.
Due to the recent spike in cases, it is likely that many schools and districts will stay online for the next semester. The newly FDA approved COVID vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna are now being administered to first responders, healthcare workers, and residents of nursing homes. School districts may wait until the vaccines are available for personnel and students. Fairfax County VA Public Schools has already decided to remain virtual until the vaccine is available which may be as soon as January 16, 20212.