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“And even if you run middle school and high school togeth- er, you are still talking about transporting kids at 10 in the morning, and getting out at six a clock at night. with extra- curricular activities. It’s just not a realistic model we can use.” Instead, he is looking into a cohort transportation style, which transports a group of students who will remain together in the same class all day. “We will go pick them all up. We don’t need to strictly


social distance since … they will all be in the same room, all day with just [one teacher] and [in the bus with] our driver, as those are the only two adults that would make contact with them,” Uecker said. “Then if something went wrong, as far as an outbreak, then we would just stop transporting that class, and the students, teacher and driver couldn’t report back for two weeks.”


Could Routing Software Be the Solution? Having routing software that districts can utilize to


make these what-if scenarios a reality is the first start. Richard Papa, general manager at TripSpark, recom- mended that districts protect their current data. “Whatever scenario planning you want to do, make


a copy of your database and work within that space,” Papa said. “It’s an easy way to protect the data and really helps to ensure that you don’t cause yourself headaches.


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Sometimes people want to do scenario planning with their live data. But with all the scenarios that COVID-19 has put in front of us, anywhere from five to seven dif- ferent plans, you don’t want to corrupt you most current data. You really have to protect that.” He also advised that districts turn to neighboring districts, articles in industry trade magazines, and other consultants for help. He said transportation directors should reach out to vendors that offer not only routing software but also GPS and student tracking for planning. Derek Graham, a consultant to Education Logistics (Ed-


ulog), agreed. He said he recommends that school districts get routing software, even in a normal school year. “It just helps [districts] respond, and helps them main- tain a more organized operation,” Graham said. “But the beauty of it, is having all the data at your fingertips.” He noted that school districts need to have data that


is in good shape, as it will make it easier for them to respond in the future, whether they are changing bell times or bus capacities, as districts would be able to see who needs what service. ●


Read the CDC guidelines for school buses on social distancing at stnonline.com/go/78.


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