Insights to School Bus Operations during COVID-19

Published by Kevin Lloyd on

Insights and guidance for consideration by Schools offering a home to school transportation service that have been collected through various discussions and resources. (visit to learn more about managing COVID-19 at International Schools)


  • Develop a transportation department safety plan by reviewing and updating current transportation practices – focusing on compliance and health risk.
    • This starts from the time students are picked up in a bus or leave their car in the parking lot until the time they leave the school in a car or dropped off by the bus.
    • Ensure that all transportation policies and procedures are aligned and integrated with the school especially communications
    • Look at entrance and exit procedures with cohorts
    • Look for points of congestion, common and high touch areas, points where staff will converse or meet with these cohorts
    • Make sure those higher risk items are addressed in your safety plan in addition to the actions needed for compliance.
    • Evaluate if monitors can be added on a voluntary or low-cost employment basis
    • Determine if you can have staggered entrance and exit plans for students arriving and departing
    • Response plan for transportation aligned with the school plan (this should be based on number infected with mitigation strategies in line with local regulations from government or health organization)
    • Determine if masks are to be worn and by whom
    • Decide if temperature will be screened before getting on the bus and how to screen the temperature
    • Decide if ventilation will be required – driving with the windows open
    • Determine if hand sanitizers are used and where they will be used for instance in each bus with a monitor or self-administer
    • Plan on which seats will be used
    • Put a plan in place for enforcement (e.g. denied boarding, isolation area, quarantine)
    • Require parents to sign a form acknowledging the rules and regulations of the transport service
  • Develop a transportation services plan for students in special education programs to assist students to re-engage in school.


  • Plan to clean and disinfect buses before and after school
  • Inventory plan to provide the necessary material for the above (this should also be coordinated with the school plan)
  • Use technology to reduce spread of germs such as using new electrostatic sprayers for disinfecting. There are also low-end technologies such as spray barriers, floor spacing decals and posters that should be considered to help students enter and exit the school safely. (this should also be coordinated with the school plan)


  • Use of technology such as an App can reduce staff interactions or eliminate congestion points. (an app should be considered for the entire school)
    • Drivers check in students
    • Online training sessions (process of entering the school for the bus or leaving the school to the bus)
    • Drivers communicate bus issues via push notification
    • Parents or monitors register temperature is below a certain threshold
    • Update on route changes to the parents through push notification and integrated schedule

visit to learn more about our solutions for communication and engagement at International Schools.

  • Develop a transportation communications plan about how transportation is managing due to the virus to account for the fluidity of the COVID-19 situation. (must be integrated and coordinated for the entire school)
  • Ensure documentation follows data protection rules (e.g. GDPR)
  • Evaluate what documentation is really necessary – keep it simple – such as just having a temperature above or below a certain level like 37.5 C
  • Provide a regular communication plan (aligned with the school)


  • Develop a financial plan that captures COVID-19 related expenses and review and/or revise transportation budgets based on the district’s selected educational model.
  • Evaluate if there are options to work proactively with the bus companies on price and costs
    • Determine who will take the costs for bus driver safety including unemployment benefits
    • Renegotiate contracts to allow for flexibility in case of future service breaks or changes
    • Explore alternative use of buses / revenue streams if possible such as transporting other items between home and school
    • Develop an alternative/back-up organization plan if drivers, managers, administrative and/or key employees are unable to work.
  • Compare metrics pre-COVID to current such as
    • On time arrival
    • Vehicle out of service levels
    • Accidents and incidents
    • Driver attendance
    • Staff turnover
  • Provide performance (scoreboard) metrics specific to the pandemic, such as:
    • number of drivers contracting the virus
    • bus cleaning compliance
  • Risk management plan by meeting with school insurance carrier (coordinated overall for all areas of the school)


  • Review and revise training plan for drivers, technicians, bus aides, and administrative staff. Ensure drivers and maintenance/cleaning staff are professionally trained.
  • Consider to develop and maintain a wellness program that deals with anticipated social, emotional, and behavioral wellness issues – this should be considered not only for staff but also for the wider community including partners
  • Develop a tracing program (should be integrated with the school plan)
  • Develop a health diagnostic program that supports high risk or concerned staff that may require or desire enhanced protection measures including equipment to protect employees, change of positions if possible, etc. (should be integrated with the school plan)
  • Identify additional employee resources (substitutes) to cover for a higher absence rate such as drivers.
  • Ensure contracts provide the flexibility and support required during this crisis.