TEA releases transportation guidelines; parents, schools react

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Updated: Jul. 8, 2020 at 10:03 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has released new guidelines for school districts to follow this summer and in the fall.

The guidelines cover health and safety practices, guidelines for on-campus and remote learning, guidelines for activities and extracurricular activities, and guidelines for transportation.

“We will be providing masks for our drivers and all students, when they get on the bus, will be required to wear a mask, no matter what age,” said Dr. James Wilcox, the superintendent of Longview ISD. “The buses will be sanitized after every route.”

These are a few of the steps Longview ISD is taking to ensure student and staff safety when they go back to school, in August. This decision comes after the TEA released guidelines for districts for the next school year.

The TEA transportation recommendations include:

1. School systems should consider requiring students and staff to use hand sanitizer upon boarding the bus.

2. When possible, schools should open windows to allow outside air to circulate in the bus.

3. School systems should encourage families to drop students off, carpool, or walk with their student to school to reduce possible virus exposure on buses.

4. Buses should be thoroughly cleaned after each bus trip, focusing on high-touch surfaces such as bus seats, steering wheels, knobs, and door handles. During cleaning, open windows to allow for additional ventilation and airflow.

“They’re good steps,” said Mandy Boyd, a parent of both a Quitman ISD and Winnsboro ISD student. “I think people over-rely on hand sanitizer and fail to wash their hands, sometimes, and people don’t even realize they’re supposed to wash their hands. They think hand sanitizer will just cover it, and it’s not.”

“Every student in the district will be screened when they come to campus, temperature-wise, as they wash their hands,” said Wilcox. “Not just at bus drop-offs, but parent drop-offs also. The parents will have to attest, to their knowledge, the child is not ill when they leave.”

Wilcox said they won’t be able to ensure social distancing on the buses as students will still have to be sitting two students per seat, but he hopes the mask requirement and bus sanitation will be good factors for student safety.

“We can’t run two complete bus routes of 72 buses and have any kind of consistency of getting our students in class and available for learning,” said Wilcox. “We’re going to try the best we can; require masks, sanitize the buses, the statement from the parents, and the handwashing when the students get off the bus.”

“I don’t feel real good about them getting on a bus,” said Boyd. “I’m sure I’ll find some way to keep them off the bus actually. I don’t think putting grade school kids in a contained area is a great idea; there’s not a whole lot of adult supervision on a bus, aside from the bus driver.”

The TEA says schools are required to post their individual plans based on the TEA guidelines at least one week prior to the start of any on-campus activities or instruction, stating how they plan to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

PREVIOUS: WATCH: Longview ISD Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox discusses TEA guidelines for new school year

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