DES MOINES, Iowa — With institutions finalizing return to learn plans, the question now is how are students getting to and from school.
Both Des Moines and Indianola school districts and said this year is going to look a lot different than years past. Drivers and students will be required to wear masks and bus drivers will now have to clean and disinfect each bus after every trip.
One of Des Moines Public Schools’ current priorities is listening to the concerns of its staff to make sure they feel secure going back into the school year.
“We are actually having a special meeting with our drivers and associates tomorrow afternoon via Skype, so hopefully we’ll get more information, but our main priority is the safety of our drivers, associates, and students alike,” Transportation Training and Safety Specialist for Des Moines Public Schools, Robin Witt said.
Des Moines and Indianola school districts both have seatbelts on their buses, which they believe can help limit physical interaction among students.
“We were blessed last year when the school board let us buy seat belts for the buses, which I think makes our district a little bit ahead of some other districts because they’ll actually be assigned a seat and strapped-in in their seat belts,” Transportation Director, Indianola Community School District, Ron Swartz said. ”
Indianola buses will only have 45 students and will do two trips on their busier routes. Buses will be sectioned off by middle school, elementary and high school. No one will be able to sit directly behind the driver.
Des Moines will only allow one student per seat, with the exception of siblings. DMPS said they will also load buses starting from the back to make more distance between students and the driver. They will then unload from the front so students don’t have to pass one another when exiting. DMPS is cutting bus capacity by half as well.
As these are all new procedures both Des Moines and Indianola school districts are asking parents and staff to be patient.
“We’re learning along with everybody else. We’ve never had to deal with a pandemic and we will do what we have to do to be safe. Safety is our main priority. We’re not gonna do something, and put somebody in jeopardy,” Witt said.