SC Dept. of Ed will require masks on buses, other changes

Masks to be required on SC school buses

FORT MILL, S.C. (WBTV) -Your child will have to wear a mask if they ride a school bus in South Carolina.

The South Carolina Department of Education put out the tweet this morning.

Masks are just one of the massive safety changes the department is implementing to keep up with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control safety guidelines.

The bus guidelines are supposed to protect students and drivers from the coronavirus. Buses can only be 50 percent full max to accommodate students sitting one or two to a seat.

Fort Mill Schools district spokesperson Joe Burke says less people on the bus will create changes to bus routes. Districts are asking any parents who can drive their student to and from school to take that option.

Windows and vents will be open to circulate air throughout the bus. Burke says the new guidelines are necessary, but add to an already complicated time.

”We know that there are still going to be challenges when we get into there and we ask our parents to just be patient,” says Fort Mill Schools Communication Director Joe Burke. “Help us work through these issues and we will get these solved as quickly as possible.”

Parents feel the bus drivers will have to regulate these rules. Some parents say the bus driver has a huge responsibility of driving kids safely. Adding more to their plate could be a huge undertaking.

”So many unknowns we’re just kinda taking a guess and hoping for the best at this point, says mom Kita Marsh.

Marsh is not letting her kids go on the bus this year.

”You’re weighing your options between health and safety and experience,” she explains.

Marsh’s kids are both in the pivotal grades of high school - freshman and senior.

She does not want them to miss out, but realizes the responsibility for the safety protocols South Carolina wants falls on the drivers who already have so much on their plate.

”I’ve seen some of the issues that they can have on the buses with some of these kids just because they’re kids and you only have the one bus driver they can only do so much when you’re driving,' she says. “You can’t have your eyes on those kids the whole time.

Burke says the district is working hard on a plan to implement all safety measures without a hitch.

”The first couple weeks of school is challenging with a normal year for bus transportation and we know it’s going to be more challenging this year,” says Burke.

Those challenges: requiring masks for students and staff, only 50 percent capacity with one to two students per seat and potentially longer routes and longer days for students.

”We know that there are still going to be challenges when we get into there and we ask our parents to just be patient,” he says.

Marsh is instead sticking with the car. She will drive her students to and from school.

”They are trying to come up with a plan but there isn’t a perfect plan,” says Marsh.

Districts are in the process of putting together bus plans to accommodate potentially longer routes and those expected changes.

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