Osceola County adds bus routes, needs drivers to prepare for start of school

As the first day of school approaches for Central Florida schools, transportation officials are putting new safety procedures in place for bus rides.

In Osceola County, each bus will have hand sanitizer for kids as they walk onto the bus. Top hatches will also be open to help with airflow.

“You simply can’t social distance on a school bus. There’s just not enough room,” said Arby Creach, director of transportation for Osceola County Schools. 

He says the district is requiring masks, boarding back to front and increasing bus cleanings.

As for capacity, the district is aiming for two students per seat.

“While that sounds like it would be your normal load, actually sometimes we would provide seating for more than two per seat, especially on elementary side,” Creach said.

That means even though fewer kids are going to school in person, the district needs around 35 more routes to spread everyone out.

Creach says he’s also searching for 40 drivers.

“The vacancy sign is on. Now hiring. It’s flashing,” he said.

FOX 35 reached out to other districts to see if they’re in the same boat... or bus.  

Orange County says, “Transportation will continue to review ridership numbers prior to 8/21/20 and will continue to monitor and adjust based on actual use.”

Seminole County says it does not need more routes or drivers since face-to-face attendance is below 50 percent and not all of those kids ride the bus.

The first school bus rides in the age of COVID-19 are just around the corner as Florida schools start this month.

“It’s a moving platform, so to speak, and we just have to kind of wait and see and respond and be flexible and be adaptive as we start school,” Creach said.

Osceola County officials say it may be able to cut some of those runs after the start of school and they have a better idea of how many kids are riding the bus.