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Back to School: Transportation

Filed in District, District News by on September 8, 2020

Wednesday, September 9 is the first day of school for all BC students in grades K-12. And while all students will begin school online, more than 85% of students will be heading back to our schools and classrooms the week of September 14. Whether students are walking, taking the bus, driving or being driven to school, all families will want to review some of the important information regarding transportation and the return to school. Some of the most frequently asked questions about transportation can be found below:

Transportation FAQ

Q. Are there any changes to who can ride the bus to and from school?

A: The Bethlehem Central School District provides transportation to all elementary students, to middle school students who live more than a half-mile from BCMS, to high school students who live more than a mile from BCHS, and to resident students who attend private and parochial schools within 15 miles of their homes. As the district prepares for the return to school for 2020-21, families are encouraged to provide transportation to their students when possible to reduce congestion on school buses and allow for social distancing to the extent practicable.

Q. Will social distancing be enforced on school buses?

A: Students, drivers and staff should maintain appropriate social distancing to the extent practicable on the school bus. Members of the same household will be required to sit together. The district is working to keep the maximum bus capacity at 50%. To reduce density on buses, parents are encouraged to drive their child/ren to school. 

Q. Will masks be required on the bus?

A: Students, drivers and staff must wear acceptable face coverings at all times on school transportation (e.g., entering, exiting, and seated). If students need a face covering, they will be provided with one by the driver prior to entering the vehicle. Students who are unable to tolerate a face covering — and who have received a formal, written exemption from the district’s medical director — are not required to wear a mask, but must be appropriately socially distanced.

Learn more about COVID-19 safety measures on school buses in this video.

Q. My child will be taking the bus for the first time this year. Is there information available for first-time riders?

A: Yes. Our transportation team has an orientation video for kindergarten students and those using the bus for the first time. They outline all of the regular safety rules and have added information regarding COVID-19 safety as well. The video, “Buster’s First Ride,” can be viewed here:

Q. Will students’ temperatures be checked before entering the bus?

A:  Students’ temperatures will not be checked by school personnel before boarding buses. Instead, parents will be required to complete a temperature check and health screening at home, before the start of the school day.

Q. Can my child sit with their friend on the bus if they have been spending time together this summer?

A. No. Only siblings or members of the same household will sit together unless students are otherwise directed by the bus driver. Seats will be assigned to all students and they will not change unless otherwise directed. (Updated Aug. 25, 2020)

Q. How many students will be in each seat?

A: Students must sit one to a seat unless they are members of the same household or otherwise directed by the driver.

Q. Will members of the same household be required to sit together?

A: Yes. To maximize social distancing on the buses, siblings and members of the same household who travel on the same bus will be required to sit together. 

Q. When will bus routes and schedules be released?

A: Transportation schedules are posted to the Aspen Parent Portal. To find your child’s bus route and bus stop information, look on the left side of the student file in Aspen, and then:

  1. Click on the Membership tab;
  2. Click on the Transportation tab; and
  3. Click on the Details tab.

Parents with questions or concerns about their child’s bus schedule may contact Transportation Director Cindy Jurewicz at 518-439-3830. (Updated Sept. 5, 2020)

Q. Will there be late buses at the high school?

A: There will be no late buses to begin the 2020-21 school year.

Q. Can I drop off my child(ren) in the morning, but use the bus after school?

A:  Parents and legal guardians are encouraged to drop off or walk students to school to reduce density on buses. If your child only needs one-way transportation to or from school, please contact Transportation Director Cindy Jurewicz at 518-439-3830.with that information.

Q. Can my child be dropped off or picked up at different locations during the week?

A: Keeping students in smaller cohorts will be part of health and safety precautions in 2020-21. In order to reduce mixing student cohorts on the buses, students will not be permitted to alter from their scheduled morning and afternoon routes. If a student is transported somewhere other than their home address (daycare, second home address), that alternate transportation would have to take place every day of the week with no exceptions.

Q. What is the schedule for cleaning the buses?

A: All buses that are used every day will be cleaned/ disinfected twice a day. High-contact points will be wiped down after the final morning (AM) and buses will be disinfected fully following the afternoon (PM) runs. (Updated Sept. 3, 2020)

Q: Will hand sanitizer be available on the bus?

A: On August 27, 2020, the New York State Department of Transportation authorized school districts to allow the use of hand sanitizer on buses. There is no appropriate location for a hand sanitizer dispenser on the school bus, however, both students and staff will be able to bring their own personal hand sanitizer (8 oz. container or smaller) onto the bus. Hand sanitizer must be stored in a bag or backpack when not in use. (Updated Sept. 3, 2020)

Q: How will social distancing be enforced when students are getting on and off the bus at school?

A: Students embarking and disembarking buses will be required to remain socially distant to the extent possible and wear a face covering. Staff will be available at the elementary schools to assist students in getting on and off the buses while maintaining distance.

Q: Will the new start time at the high school impact bus transportation for BOCES CTE students?

A: Yes. BCHS students who are enrolled in morning classes at the Capital Region BOCES CTE campus will now ride a CTE/private/parochial bus that leaves from the middle school. Students can access that bus two ways: they can take an early bus that picks them up at their community/neighborhood stop (information is in Aspen) and brings them to middle school to board the bus that will take them to the CTE campus. Or, families can drop their student off at the middle school by 7:15 a.m. to take the bus directly to CTE. This transportation change only affects students in the morning program at CTE. A letter with the bus information for those in the morning CTE program (who have been assigned to Route 36 from the middle school) has been mailed to families of these students by the district’s Transportation Department. (New: Aug. 25, 2020)

Q: Does the district expect more traffic as students head back to school?

A: Yes. It is important to know that 87% of all students have chosen in-person instruction and while students in grades 7-12 will only be coming to school every other day, the district expects more families will be driving their students to school. The traffic impact will be especially noticeable at the elementary schools where students will attend school every day. The schools are working very hard to create arrival and dismissal procedures that are safe and efficient. However, it may take a few weeks to ensure a smooth process. That means families should expect additional traffic and should plan schedules accordingly, especially at the start of school. Families will also want to be aware that the high school has a new start time of 8 a.m. This means the high school and the middle school will be starting at the same time, with more buses and cars on the road in the morning. (New: Sept. 3, 2020)