As NC schools consider reopening in the fall, busing becomes a concern

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WJZY)- The first day of school is a little over a month away and in order to get students back in class, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has to first get them to school.

It’s possible that bus lots could remain closed next month when schools are supposed to reopen.

CMS is still trying to figure out if they can open and what that would look like, but the clock is ticking for planning bus routes.

“Transportation this is one that has been a stress factor,” said Carol Stamper, Deputy Superintendent of Operations.

Stamper says she’s never seen so many scenarios as she has for bus plans. The main problem to tackle is how many students could fit on a bus while maintaining six feet of social distancing?

“We are going to figure out how to get as many of our students to school as possible on the resources that we have.”

Plan B would allow one student per seat on a 72-passenger bus for a total of 24 students–a third of the normal capacity. 

“While it is a limitation it’s not a restriction.”

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Bus plans are crafted as soon as summer break begins so the district is already behind as plans for reopening are still being developed. Routes must be set by Monday in order for schools to reopen August 17.

“For them to actually be able to craft the routes in which they run, that is not a quick pivot. That takes time, that takes a lot of man[power] in which to generate those routes.

A job made even harder with 70 driver positions open.

Drivers will be disinfecting buses after every morning and afternoon run as well as supplying hand sanitizer for students on the bus, but parents will be the first line of defense.

“The parent would be responsible to make certain that they have answered the questions and taken the temperature for that student that day.”

Plan C is remote learning which wouldn’t require buses. It’s not clear what this would mean for drivers and if they would continue getting paid.

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