Owego-Apalachin takes on transportation challenge ahead of school year

(WBNG) — While schools are figuring out how to social distance in the classroom this fall, another challenge districts are tackling is how to social distance on a school bus.

Owego-Apalachin asked parents to fill out a survey to determine how many students would need busing if they attended school in-person.

Transportation director Anthony Quaranta says filing through that data has been one of the biggest difficulties.

“We are a mass transportation system. We transport more people every single day than airlines and trains and planes do, everyday. But now we’ve got to cater it and individualize it to every single student that comes in, based on their needs and where they have to go,” he said.

Typically, OA’s school buses can fit 70 students, but this fall, the district’s goal is to have no more than 23 kids on board at one time.

They’ll be cutting the number down by changing routes and adding runs.

Social distancing efforts are also in place.

Seats are marked with red tape, so students know to alternate between window and aisle seats.

The transportation department is also putting a new strategy in place when it comes to kids boarding the bus.

“We’re going to load from the back to the front and try to limit people walking past each other as much as possible. Obviously it’s not a perfect system because we don’t want pre-K kids and kindergarteners to have to go all the way to the back of the bus by themselves, so there will be a little bit of that but we’re going to try and limit it as much as possible.” said Quaranta.

Masks are required for everyone on board and drivers will go through a health screening each day.

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