To help ensure the safe start-up of student transportation services in September, the following precautions will be put in place:
- Before every trip, bus drivers, students, parents and staff must self-assess for any COVID-19 symptoms. All students and drivers who experience symptoms must self-isolate and stay home. If a child develops symptoms while at school, he/she will not be permitted to return home on a school bus and must be picked up by a parent/guardian or provided a safe alternate means of transportation.
- All students (K to 12) will be required to wear non-medical masks, given the potential for close contact on a school bus. Exceptions will be made for students with medical conditions or special needs.
- Special care and attention will be given to supporting students with special education needs. Some children may not be able to use masks or may have medical or other special circumstances that require accommodations. Please inform the principal and transportation department of any accommodation requirements as soon as possible.
- School bus drivers will be required to wear medical masks and/or face shields. Where possible, the seat directly behind the driver will remain empty to maintain physical distancing.
- Students will be assigned seats on the bus. Students who live in the same household or who are in the same classroom cohort will be seated together.
- Enhanced cleaning for high touch surfaces (e.g. seats, inside hand railing, interior windows and walls, etc.) will be performed before and after each shift, as well as in between runs.
- Whenever possible, windows will be opened to increase ventilation on the bus.
- Hand sanitizer will be made available on the bus, and drivers will use sanitizer before and after assisting a child to their seat (if applicable), touching wheelchairs or other assistive devices, or having other direct contact with children, as needed throughout a trip and where gloves are not able to be used.
- Signage will be displayed on buses to reinforce the importance of wearing masks, staying six feet apart where possible (e.g. lining up for the bus, boarding and disembarking), using good hand hygiene and not going into the aisles or congregating near the driver.
To start the 2020-21 school year, the Toronto Student Transportation Group (TSTG), which provides bus services for the TDSB, will be moving forward with a phased start for student transportation to ensure that students with special education needs are prioritized and receive bus service beginning the first week of school.
During week 1 of the school year only students with special education needs, excluding those in the gifted program, will be provided with student transportation.
Beginning week 2, all other eligible students will be provided with student transportation, unless there is a significant driver shortage or other unforeseen issues related to COVID-19.
Given continued school bus driver shortages across the province, this staggered approach provides TSTG additional time to identify and address any potential start-up issues related to the driver shortage, and to ensure when full transportation services are in place, they are running as smoothly as possible.
Parents/guardians or staff with questions may call the transportation office temporary start-up number at 647-790-3829 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.