Bus routes for New York City public school students will be available by the start of the school year on Sept. 21, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday, with families scheduled to begin being notified of the children’s routes today.
Mayor de Blasio promised that all families should be notified by Friday, Sept. 12. The Department of Education canceled school bus contracts afters schools closed in the spring due to the pandemic and the status of their return has worried parents and teachers for months.
The city has pledged to provide 100,000 students with bus seat slots. During a normal school year, yellow school buses serve about 150,000 students a day. But de Blasio argued that fewer bus seats are needed this fall since blended learning students only need to be physically at school two or three days a week buildings and thousands have opted for fully remote learning. Buses will follow 5,962 special education routes and 2,470 general education routes.
Social distancing rules will be enforced on buses, according to officials. All riders and drivers must wear masks, windows will remain open during the day and buses will be cleaned nightly. The city claims that all the 60 contracted bus companies have been equipped with 300,000 face masks, 10,000 face shields, 30,000 of hand sanitizer and that all garages have been given electrostatic sprayers to help disinfect surfaces. It is unclear if garages have received a first shipment of the fluid that goes insides of the sprayers.
Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Education has yet to keep its promise of using the ridesharing app Via to allow parents to track their child’s bus in real-time. Buses have been equipped with a form of GPS tracking, according to Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan, but parents will not have access to an app that allows for bus tracking, automated bus routing and communication on service changes until next fall.
News on the city’s school bus routes was followed by an update from Mayor de Blasio on the status of 10 school buildings closed for ventilation system repairs. On Wednesday, repairs were completed on four out of the 10 buildings. Full reporters on those building inspections will be posted to the Department of Education’s website by end of day today.