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SPECIAL REPORT


It’s NOT Business as Usual S


The constantly changing COVID-19 situation has many businesses laying off employees and altering how they provide services. The student transportation industry is no different.


Written By Taylor Hannon taylor@stnonline.com


chool transportation consists of more than simply picking up students from school and delivering them home safely.


Continuous, behind-the-scenes work goes into ensuring students are safe- ly transported by certified drivers in vehicles with the safest record during normal school commute hours. But as school bus drivers sign up


for unemployment en masse, due to school closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic, how will conti- nuity of transportation operations be affected, especially once traditional school is back in session? How will school bus drivers remain current in their credentials, with DMV’s closed? Twenty-five states, at least, are extend- ing extensions or waivers for expiring commercial driver’s licenses, learning permits and other requirements, accor- ing to a School Transportation News survey. But what happens if students or drivers are too fearful to get back on the bus? What if social distancing guide- lines don’t let up? The questions from student trans-


porters pour in with few answers. While no one knows what the imme- diate future holds, the three national associations last month joined a we-


18 School Transportation News • MAY 2020


binar presented by Transfinder, to discuss the most important consider- ations to make once school does start back up and school bus drivers return to the road doing what they do best: transporting students. But smoothly transitioning back to the “new normal” will be a colossal feat.


Pay Attention Despite the ongoing relief and


response efforts of school transport- ers, one of the largest conversations remains centered around payment of bus drivers as the coronavirus pandem- ic spreads across the U.S. A March STN web poll indicated that


38 percent of 783 respondents at school districts or bus companies were not being paid amid the school closures. To put that figure into perspective, it hap- pens to align with estimates provided by the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) that a little over one third of school busing nationwide is outsourced to a private contractor. As STN has previously reported, not


all school districts are paying their transportation contractors either, amid in-buildings school closures, which in return causes more school bus drivers across the nation to be laid off. Whether


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