WS/FCS buses to test routes this week

Published 7:02 pm Monday, October 19, 2020

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Buses for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools will be back on the road this week running regular routes for the first time since March. WS/FCS bus drivers will be testing routes to make sure the first day of transporting students will run safely. There will be no student passengers during the trial period which runs from Oct. 21 to Oct. 23.

The test runs are an opportunity for the transportation team to evaluate routes and prepare for students as the district begins transitioning to in-person learning. WS/FCS will run full routes, pausing at each stop for approximately 3 to 5 seconds to simulate a stop, extend the stop arm, etc.

This will also give bus drivers an opportunity to get familiar with the routes, test run times and report any major concerns in an effort to improve safety and efficiency.

“It is our intent by conducting these test runs and simulating student passenger stops to create awareness and improve safety when we start transporting students,” said Lauren Richards, chief operations officer for WS/FCS.

This year, drivers will also be taking additional steps to ensure students are socially distanced and wearing masks. Many buses will have an assistant on board to help drivers collect forms and monitor students. Seat decals have been added to all buses to identify where students should sit. Buses will also be disinfected between each run. High-touch points such as handrails, seat backs, and window sills will be wiped down with disinfectant. Each bus lot is equipped with an electrostatic sprayer to cover even more surfaces.

Elementary schools will begin their phased return with Pre-K and EC Pre-K starting Oct. 26 followed by grades K-3 & 6, EC separate-setting/assigned, EC-OCS and ESL Academy on Nov. 2. These students will attend school four days a week with Wednesdays being used for remote learning to enable schools to undergo deep cleaning. Grades 4, 5, 7 and 8 will start a phased re-entry later in November.

High school students will return as soon as Jan. 11 for in-person testing. In-person classes will start on Jan. 25.

WS/FCS asks all drivers to be mindful of school buses that will be moving throughout the county starting on Wednesday. Student safety is paramount.