Marlin ISD brings social distancing to the school bus experience

Posted at 6:06 PM, Jul 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-31 19:26:20-04

MARLIN, TX — Making schools safer goes far beyond the classroom walls.

It also includes district-run transportation like the old, reliable school bus.

Social distancing in a school bus may look a little different than what you expect.

A few weeks ago, we measured a Kendrick Elementary School classroom in Waco for social distancing, but what good is a classroom if you can't get there?

So now, we measured school buses.

La-vay Frias of Lott says parent's concern over health and safety on a school bus boils down to one thing.

"Well, with a school bus you wind up with so many kids crammed into one spot," she said.

But if you can social distance a vast majority of an average class in an average classroom, why can't you do it with a school bus?

Marlin ISD took up the challenge and came up with an innovative approach.

"This is extremely important. We understand in the times we face, phasing back into school may cause some concern or alarm for parents so we want to assure all of our families that we follow all guidelines," said, Dr. Stacey Parker, Director of Student Services for Marlin ISD.

So what do the new bus guidelines say?

"We plan to follow all CDC guidelines as well as our local health department, So we will social distance on the bus, by having our scholars face forward, skipping seats a row back. Siblings of the same household can sit together and we are requiring all our students to wear masks or face coverings on the bus," explained Dr. Parker.

How much protection does all that provide? The 25 tape measure once again, provided the answers.

Between students, we measured 78 to 81 inches.

From the top, the seats measured about 30 inches apart, while at their base, they measured about 28 inches.

Not exactly classic "social distancing,"but about as good as you'll get on a school bus.

Marlin plans to clean their school buses better and more often, and may change bus routes so elementary, middle and high school students ride at separate times, in separate buses.

"As we continue to get our registration numbers, and we ride and analyze our bus routes, there is potential room for us to make those decisions," said Parker.

So, schools will adjust as they learn.

School leaders have pledged to keep track of the changes and make course corrections that make sense.

La-vay Frias likes that and wishes more of us would pay closer attention to the ongoing virus story, so we can stay current with our decisions too.

"I don't know where people are getting this oh, it's going away... no, it's not going away," she said.

Superintendent Henson and his team say the new rules will take a little getting used to, but once students adjust, they believe they'll be happier and safer.