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So, where exactly does the indus-


try go to get some, any answers? The politically expedient answer


is with the guidance of public health officials. But at the same time, there have been, differing perspectives to say the least between balanc- ing public health and the need for people to get back to work as well as some semblance of normalcy. All things being equal, a new task


force implemented last month aims to provide some direction to both public and private student transport- ers by offering a roadmap for getting school buses running again, this time with students onboard. NSTA along with the National Association for Pupil Transportation and the National Association of State Direc- tors of Pupil Transportation Services launched the Student Transporta- tion Aligned for Return to School (STARTS) Task Force. Three subcom- mittees led by a steering committee


are each focused on identifying how to start moving forward. The focus of their research is three-tiered: ensuring the health and safety of students and transportation em- ployees; communications, advocacy and public relations; and scheduling and routing. This ranges from how to provide physical distancing at the bus facility and onboard the buses to impacts on budgets and operations to disinfecting and sanitizing buses. Curt Macysyn, executive director


of NSTA, said that while the three associations don’t always see eye to eye, the common ground far out- weighs any individual missions. “The task force was just a natural extension of our work we were doing and the work through [the American School Bus Council],” he explained. “The challenge now is to get the trans- portation perspective really drilled down, one, and then into the main- stream so policymakers don’t just go


on TV and say, ‘Hey, we’ll just go to split schedules and that will solve all the problems.’ Or, ‘We’ll just take the kid’s temperatures as they get on the bus. The bus drivers will do it.’ “We can’t solve one problem and then create another one. These is- sues have to be vetted, and we’re the ones with the experience.” For example, how does an operation


reduce passenger capacity to eight students per bus amid bell schedules that will still require all the students to start class at the same time? “You’re going to have to be shut-


tling all day back and forth, back and forth. And schools won’t be able to afford it,” Benish observed.


Greasing the Wheels The new task force will attempt to


make sense out of resulting backlogs of commercial drivers who descend all at once on state departments of motor vehicles (DMV) to renew


www.stnonline.com 19


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