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Staff with Hutto ISD in Texas demonstrate social distancing on the school bus, which consists of one student seated per every other row, against the window and staggered across the aisle.


Hutto ISD in Texas is planning on school bus drivers, like Debbie Tullos, wearing face masks and shields when transporting students. But some medical experts advise against the visors, citing concerns about vision obstructions.


As school districts embark on a new set of challenges, including social distancing requirements on school buses, altering bell times could be a solution in the long list of scenario planning.


Written By Taylor Hannon taylor@stnonline.com


S 24 School Transportation News • JULY 2020


everal research studies, including one by the National Sleep Foundation, indicate that high school students need more sleep to function at a higher level. School districts and transportation departments have recognized the significance in a tiered routing system to combat that very challenge. However, as some school districts have adjusted their school bell times to com-


ply with those studies, the changes being discussed for this upcoming school year are nothing close to traditional and could put more responsibility on parents. Drew Damien, director of transportation for Palmer Public Schools in Mas-


sachusetts, said that the previous bell-time changes were consequence driven, indicating that there is legitimacy to the claims that high school seniors need more sleep. But the bell times being discussed now are solution driven, as trans- portation directors plan for the uncertainties that lie ahead. “Right now … the consequence is the unknown,” Damien explained, who is also


the president of the Massachusetts Association of Pupil Transportation. Damien contracts school busing with J.P McCarthy & Sons, based in Brookfield, Massachusetts. He noted that because he currently runs 11 school buses and two tiers of routes, he is paying for 22 runs in the morning and afternoon. However, social distancing guidelines could cause his contracted needs to increase.


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