Though most HISD students are starting school virtually, Transportation Services was back on the road on Sept. 8, providing student shuttle service to and from 36 digital learning centers across the district.
Strategically located across the district, digital learning centers provide students without technology access a place to complete their daily virtual lessons during the district’s online-only first six weeks of school.
Students who have been previously identified as needing technology will be assigned to a select center, based on the location of their home school. Once assigned, the home school will provide parents with their student’s bus stop and pick-up and drop-off times.
Transportation Services General Manager John Wilcots IV said the department will utilize a shuttle system to transport students from their home campuses to their assigned centers before school and from the center back to their home campus after school.
“We are requiring that students wear masks,” Wilcots said, noting the enhanced public health protocols the department has implemented. “Students riding the bus will be required to sit one per seat.”
To ensure proper physical distancing, bus capacity will be limited to 26 students, with students required to sit one per seat, next to the window.
Students must board one at a time, sanitizing their hands and scanning their bus badges upon entry. During boarding, seats must be filled from back to front. While exiting, students must depart the bus one at a time from front to back. These procedures are designed to keep students from passing each other in the aisle, Wilcots noted.
Drivers also are required to wear masks, gloves, and face shields, and they disinfect the entire bus after each route is completed.
Wilcots said he appreciates the hard work of the drivers, who have spent the last couple weeks preparing for the new year.
“I am grateful for their dedication, and I am grateful for their diligence,” Wilcots said. “We are going to take full precautionary measures, but we see this also as an opportunity to see where we can strengthen and adjust how we’re going to operate once schools do fully reopen.”