As fall approaches, questions remain about school bus service for students

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As bus drivers gear up for the upcoming school year with different policies and practices throughout Pennsylvania school districts, parents must weigh whether or not they're comfortable with their kids getting on board.

"You can't monitor how they clean the buses and if it's going to be really clean," said Tonya Thomas of Southwest Philadelphia. "It's the children I'm not worried about, but some adults are very nasty."

The School District of Philadelphia is proposing that families conduct a daily health screening and kids will be given hand sanitizer before boarding the bus. Masks will be required, there will be assigned seats and social distancing. Arrival times to schools will be staggered.

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"They will be transporting between 11-15 children as opposed to 30-44 children," said Dr. William Hite, Philadelphia Schools Superintendent.

Grades 7-12 will ride SEPTA to get to school. SEPTA riders are required to wear masks over their mouth and nose and workers will sanitize vehicles twice a day.

"The hybrid model actually worked really well because it kind of created or allowed us to have social distancing on our vehicles," said Carla Showell-Lee, Director of Media Relations for SEPTA.

However, there is concern that the coronavirus unpredictability might shut down bus companies, creating issues down the road when schools fully reopen.

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"What impact is the change in school scheduling going to have on their businesses because they have costs as well," said Mike Berk, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania School Bus Association. "Equipment costs, staffing costs, etc. so they're very concerned about how they're going to survive if we end up with some closures."
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