SPECIAL REPORT COVID-19 Takes Industry to Cleaners

Student transportation professionals must quickly become well-versed in properly warding off infectious diseases in a school-bus environment without causing unintended consequences. Written By Ryan Gray |


op quiz: What’s the difference between clean- ing, sanitizing and disinfecting a school bus? Not sure? You’re not alone. The confusion about what each means and how to safely

accomplish them has school bus manufacturers and suppliers concerned about unforeseen and unintended consequences that could cost their customers dearly. The stance of the major OEMs—Blue Bird, IC Bus and

Thomas Built Buses—is that only soap and water is appro- priate for school buses. They reiterated as much during a National Association for Pupil Transportation webinar last month. Seconding those perspectives are a number of equipment suppliers, among them seating, occupant restraint and wheelchair securement manufacturers. Most of the guidance emanating from the federal and

state levels regarding response to the novel coronavirus is limited. To fight the common flu in schools, a type of human coronavirus but one for which a vaccine exists, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing surfaces and objects that are touched often with general household cleaners and fol- lowing up with an EPA-approved disinfectant. Meanwhile, bus OEM owner manuals address how to

16 School Transportation News • JULY 2020

clean school buses but not how often. And OEMs warn against using disinfectants, though IC Bus says wipes con- taining a 70% solution of isopropyl alcohol can be used on seats (when not hot from the sun) and seatbelts. It is important for student transporters to know the

difference between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting. According to the CDC, cleaning refers to the physical removal of germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces or objects with soap and water. “This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection,” the CDC states. Meanwhile, sanitizing reduces the bacteria identified

on the product’s label on surfaces and in laundry, ac- cording to guidance published by Clorox. Most everyday hand gels fall under the sanitizer category. A pump bottle of Purell, for example, claims that it kills (or at least reduc- es) more than 99.99 percent of germs. Purell, Clorox and others also sell surface sprays for

hard and soft surfaces that are approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use on the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Such sprays fall under the category of disinfectants.

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