The Los Angeles County Office of Education unveiled recommendations to all 80 local school districts on how to plan for reopening classrooms and school buses following the COVID-19 health crisis.
The document “A Planning Framework for the 2020-2021 School year” released on Wednesday is not intended to be directive, but it should be viewed as a guiding document for local education agencies to assist their local and individual community needs, the county stated.
While school buildings may look completely different next school year, with one-way walking paths, desks spaced six feet apart, and potentially some classes held outdoors, weather permitting. The school bus ride will also look very different.
The document stated a list of best practices for transportation operations. These include establishing recommendations for students and parents when congregating at bus stops, determining if siblings from the same household may ride the bus in the same seat, and developing a health check protocol for students before boarding the bus. The guidance also calls on school districts to determine who would be responsible for conducting health screenings.
The document also states that there should be an updated procedure if a student is found to have a fever, how to handle the student at the bus stop as well as considering students to enter and exit the bus through rear entry doors.
The plan also requests that bus seats should be assigned with consideration to social distancing. Students should remain six feet away from each other and the bus driver.
Among other considerations, the plan suggests more cleaning regimens, for the students and school bus driver, as safety is the number one priority. These included using fog machines in addition to daily disinfectants and making hand sanitizer available to both the students and drivers.
The guidelines also state that districts should identify the necessary personal protective equipment for drivers and students, which could include cloth face coverings, gloves and face shields.
Buses serving special educations students should establish seat assignments that consider the student’s one-on-one assistants. Transportation directors should be sure to disseminate communications to families and make infection control materials immediately available on the bus.
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The document comes prior to the release of state guidelines, which are scheduled to be ready by early June. In a press conference Wednesday morning, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said the state’s guidelines will include social distancing recommendations, which includes making sure students are six feet away when riding on the school bus.
Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the U.S.