Everything we know at about school will be different come September - starting with the ride in. School buses are going to be completely different for Utica-Rome area students.

The Department of Health released guidelines for students, with another set being released by the New York State Education Department this week. The DOH guidelines require that students wear masks while on buses, and that only family members can sit together - otherwise, there must be 6' of distance between bus riders.

What does that mean for getting kids to school? Well, it will be challenge for most districts.

A typical school bus seats 66 children. With one child per seat, you're down to 33 kids on a bus. If you need to distance them by skipping seats and alternating empty seat in the opposite row, you can now seat approximately 10-12 children per bus.

It's not as easy as adding more buses. Even if a district could afford to buy or rent new buses, there's a nationwide shortage of bus drivers. That shortage existed even before the pandemic hit.

Parents who can, are offering to drive their kids to school to create extra room on buses. That is a small help, but schools have to have the space and the ability to transport all their kids in the case of an emergency or an early closure due to weather.

Districts will have to add more runs, which could mean earlier or later pick up times than parents are used to. The time shift will impact morning routines, child care, and working parents.

The ability to get kids safely to and from school is just one of hundreds of concerns faced by districts and parents as schools prepare for a potential reopening in September.

What's your biggest concern about schools reopening? Let me know at beth@lite987.com


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