search.noResults

search.searching

saml.title
dataCollection.invalidEmail
note.createNoteMessage

search.noResults

search.searching

orderForm.title

orderForm.productCode
orderForm.description
orderForm.quantity
orderForm.itemPrice
orderForm.price
orderForm.totalPrice
orderForm.deliveryDetails.billingAddress
orderForm.deliveryDetails.deliveryAddress
orderForm.noItems
EDITOR’S TAKE


Back to School and the New Normal Written by Ryan Gray | ryan@stnonline.com A


s I set out to write this month’s column, I commented to my wife that the growing concern voiced to me by industry pro- fessionals regarding the Delta variant of


COVID-19 was reminiscent of late February 2020, weeks before the U.S., Canada and the rest of the world shut down. It couldn’t be that the highly contagious strain might plunge society back in the isolating waters of dis- tance learning, working and living, right? Right? In attempt to quell these fears, White House Press


Secretary Jen Psaki said last month that shutting down the country again and keeping children home in virtual learning was not an option. Hopefully those won’t be famous last words. Days later, Education Week reported that the number of school districts planning to return to hybrid learning models had doubled in the matter of a month. Meanwhile, school districts—where allowed by their state governor, and even then some are choosing to defy orders—are once again requiring masks be worn by students and staff, both at school and on the school bus. As one district in Arizona reminded me last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention federal directive that requires masks on all school buses and public transit remains in effect, which has been lost on Gov. Doug Ducey. Then in August and about a week before this issue


went to print, California ordered all K-12 school staff to be vaccinated. Will more states follow? Perhaps, especial- ly as the all-powerful American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association supports such a move nationwide. As of Aug. 9, nearly 51 percent of Americans were fully vaccinated, according to the Mayo Clinic. The total U.S. population is about 332 million, and about 48 million people are currently under the minimum vaccination age of 12 years old. That means of the roughly 284 mil- lion who are eligible for a vaccine, only 144 million are actually vaccinated. It follows logic that vaccination rates increase with age, with the age group 65 to 74 leading the charge at 82 percent. Next are those 75 and older at 78 percent, followed by 50- to 64-year-olds at 68 percent and 40- to 49-year-olds at 59 percent. Nearly half of 25- to 39-year- olds are fully vaccinated as are about 45 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds. Clearly, not all school bus drivers or teach-


10 School Transportation News • SEPTEMBER 2021


ers or other school staff are vaccinated, despite massive drives to do so. What is more alarming to me and it should be to the industry is that only 12 percent of eli- gible children are fully vaccinated. The vast majority of school bus customers—the students—are riding without protection as classes resume, even as the Delta variant is proving to make them sicker than the original virus. I hope that schools don’t close their traditional class-


rooms again in favor of distance learning, not with a first grader and a three-month old at home. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was concerned about my 6-year-old daugh- ter not being vaccinated. Still, my immediate family will deal. And ultimately the student transportation commu- nity will as well, especially amid all of the precautions in place. Last school year and the spring of 2020 proved the resiliency and courage of the entire school bus industry. No matter what happens, tens of thousands of school buses and their support staff are equipped to resume food delivery, which remains a vital necessity for so many people. And regardless of hybrid or in-person learning, a sizeable gap remains between students in households that have broadband internet and those without. These services should and in many places nationwide this school year will continue to be a new mission of school bus transportation, which it must be noted is being buoyed by federal funding that will be needed going forward. This industry has done a superb job in inserting itself as a central figure in the national COVID-19 discourse, and that spotlight in part carried over to legislation that promises unprecedented federal funding for zero- and low-emissions school bus purchases. This has been achieved in part through an evolution of what student transportation services look like. The perception of the public and students toward the yellow school bus need- ed to change, and more work remains. That can be accomplished by getting back to the new normal rather than the old. The industry needs to continuously strive to be seen as a viable solution to 21st Century challenges. Utilize as much government fund- ing as possible for as long as it’s available to help make that happen. In the meantime, stay healthy out there. ●


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86