School Bus Operators Still Waiting To Be Briefed On COVID Protocols; Local ATU Says Many Are Choosing Retirement

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With less than three weeks left until New York City students return to school in-person, parents are still waiting to get key information, including details about how kids will get to school.

When buses roll out of the depots at the start of the school year, there will be some new protocols in place:

  • Each one will be at 25% capacity.
  • Face masks are required.
  • Students will be seated next to the window in every other row.
  • Only siblings will be allowed to sit together.
  • Buses will be disinfected every day.

“You’re not going to have as many kids on the buses, but at the same time, you’re not going to have as many kids going to school on each given day,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

As CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reports, parents are waiting for more details from the district, but in a statement, the Department of Education said, “Students with [Individualized Education Programs] will be prioritized.”

“People are eager to get back. They really care for their children on the bus,” said Tomas Fret with Local Amalgamated Transit Union 1181-1061.

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In the meantime, school bus operators are still waiting to get the call to return to work, practice their routes and be briefed on COVID protocols.

“I think it’s important that we get all those bugs out. You can’t do that on day one,” said Michael Cordiello, president of Local ATU 1181-1061.

Not everyone is coming back.

According to the ATU that represents thousands of New York City school bus drivers and attendants, at least twice as many as usual have chosen retirement.

“We know that in September alone, we had 50 of our school bus workers retire,” Cordiello said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

It’s unclear if there will be capacity to provide school bus service to all students.

“That just seems kind of outrageous, to drive to and from school. How are you ever going to get work done?” parent Darcy Miro said.

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Some parents are still concerned about safety and have already made alternative plans.

“Our kids are in isolated pods as much as possible, and I don’t think logistically they could do that for all the buses,” parent Alex Rivers said.

If the Department of Education cannot accommodate students on a school bus, it is developing partnerships with the MTA and TLC to provide alternative transportation.

The mayor said more information should be released later this week.

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