School buses ready to bring students to school

Published: Aug. 24, 2020 at 6:40 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Now that many area school districts have plans in place to open schools, it is up to school bus companies to get students there safely.

It has been a busy summer for Student Transit, which operates buses in the Eau Claire and Altoona School Districts along with several private schools, as they come up with plans to operate during the pandemic.

“We think this plan with what the district has put in place and what we have put in place should go pretty well but we all know it could change within a minute,” says David Myers, Director of Safety at Student Transit.

Myers says the company has been working the health department to put many new protocols in place including operating the buses at 50% capacity, requiring masks, loading students from the back to front, offering hand sanitizer and keeping windows open as much as possible.

Drivers will take attendance and students will have assigned seats to help with contact tracing if someone on the bus were to test positive for COVID-19.

In nearby Elk Mound School District, which operates its own buses, similar protocol is in place.

“We will load buses from the back to the front, family members will sit together and we will social distance the best we can but we have a lot of students who ride our bus so we will navigate that the best we can,” says Superintendent Eric Wright. “Masks are required and we’ll keep windows open.”

Student Transit General Manager Marty Klukas says his drivers have been very flexible with the new plans and most are returning to work for the school year.

“They are anxious, they are ready to get back but they are also cautiously optimistic,” Klukas says. “We have a few drivers that have said they want to play it by ear.”

Drivers have different routes day to day as well this year since most students are going to school just a few days a week and doing virtual school the other days.

Parents are encouraged to take their kids to school if possible, but for those who rely on the bus, the company will do its best to keep students and drivers safe.

“Our drivers are flexible in taking that change even in daily routes they are willing to make changes and roll with it but it is really a fluid situation. It is just take it as it comes and don’t panic,” Myers says.

“We have some of the most dedicated employees on the planet and we want to deliver that precious cargo,” Klukas says.

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