COVID-19 and school buses

COVID-19 and school buses

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Calcasieu Schools plan to return to a 5-day a week schedule after the Thanksgiving break, even as COVID-19 numbers in the region rise.

It’s an announcement that’s been met with a lot of questions and concerns, particularly about what safety measures will be in place as children take the bus to school.

Mary Fontenot with the Calcasieu Parish School Board says the hurricanes have also added to these problems as far as bus stops, “Students are not where they traditionally would have been. Stop signs gone. Red lights gone.”

With non-virtual students going back to a traditional 5-day schedule she says it will be a challenge for her department, but a challenge she’s sure they can meet.

“We’re confident we’ll be able to handle it. We’ll have all the same guidelines in place. However, we do want to encourage parents to have kids out 5 to 7 minutes earlies because on Nov. 30 it will be a new route basically.”

Fontenot says certain students will be affected in different ways.

“If they’re marked as an 01, that means they are eligible to ride a bus. Once we come back on November 30th, everyone will have the 01 code. With all our covid restrictions, we’ve also had to be very strict about no alternate pick up and drop-offs because of how that affects the seating charts and capacity.”

The phased-in plan for bringing students back 5-days a week includes close-monitoring of public health data from the Louisiana Department of Health. As for the buses, Fontenot says they will still operate at 75% capacity. A system she says is needed given everything the community’s been through.

“With traffic, construction crews, and debris one of the last few things people think about is the bus. I just can’t say enough of what a monumental task that’s been and we’ve navigated safely. That’s our number 1 goal. With covid, we continue to fight that battle as well.”

Fontenot says the school system has lost some drivers following the hurricanes but that they are always recruiting in order to meet demand.

She says any parent who has questions about the bus routes after the Thanksgiving holiday can give their office a call or can reach out directly to the child’s school.

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