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What will our kids’ school commute be like during pandemic?

Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 8:39 PM EDT
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EVANS, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Kids will soon be heading back to school, and a lot of them will have to take the bus. But what will that be like?

An inside look at Columbia County shows us what buses might will look like this semester, and what guidelines the school district will have to follow.

Columbia County school officials say they are more than prepared for this coming school year. But parents are still asking what the situation with school buses is.

So, naturally, we went on a ride-along.

Columbia County school bus drivers are ready to hit the road this school year, and are optimistic of the plan in place.

“I think it’s a great plan. They gave an option to the parents. If you’re not comfortable with it keep your kids home,” said Jamie Usry, a Columbia County school bus driver.

Usry has been driving school buses for 18 years and says these kids are a second family.

“I can’t tell you we love them as much as the parents do, but we love those kids,” she said.

And she plans to keep her riders healthy and her bus clean.

“We’ll be more careful wearing our masks and wearing gloves and keeping the bus very sanitized.”

But that's just part of the district's plan this year.

“We will be doing the social distancing, we will be changing the way we will be loading students, so that we can spread them out on the bus. We will have reduced loads,” said Shirley Doolittle, assistant director of transportation for Columbia County.

Doolittle says the plan lists things like: mandatory masks for middle and high schoolers along with bus drivers. Making sure siblings sit together. And each bus is sanitized between rides.

“We’re just flexing whatever we need to do to be successful to keep the children safe and yes and to get them to and from school,” Doolittle said.

And the district says a postcard was sent to each student with info about their assigned bus. But no matter what bus students get, safety is a top priority.

“Being a bus driver, you can have all kinds of things going on in your life. But when you step on that school bus everything is behind you and your priority is taking care of those children,” Usry said.

Columbia County school district officials say they will continue to work on communication with parents. The district has an app called Find My Bus Stop and it helps you find school bus information.

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