What to expect with school bus transport this year

school bus The back to school transportation plan is out. Parents will want to read this.

Niagara Student Transportation Services has released its school bus transportation plan for the upcoming school year.

Here is what parents can expect for back to school transportation.

General guidelines for reopening transportation services

  • NSTS encourages active forms of travel, like walking and cycling).
  • Elementary school buses will operate close to capacity and secondary buses will operate closer to half capacity.
    • NSTS has tried to limit no more than two students per assigned seat on elementary school buses.
  • All students must opt-in to use transportation services.
  • Face coverings are required for students in Grades 4 to 12. They are strongly encouraged for students in kindergarten to Grade 3.
  • Seating plans for every bus will try to keep students from the same household and the same homeroom together. The first row of seating will be unassigned.
    • Until homeroom arrangements are settled, students will be seated by grade if they are not riding with someone in the same household.
    • The seating rows will be labelled (shown above the window for each seat bench) by a number denoting the grades (e.g. one for Grade 1, two for Grade 2, etc.)
    • The rows behind the driver are labelled as ABC and behind the stairwell is labelled as DEF.
  • The bus driver will select windows to be opened for ventilation.
  • Bus drivers/monitors will receive and be trained on how to wear a face mask and face shield.
  • Hand sanitizer will be mounted on the dash on the top of the stairs on the right side for use.
  • Buses will be disinfected frequently.
    • Handrails will be disinfected between every school run.
    • Seat tops and back will be disinfected twice a day.
  • The school must notify NSTS if a child is not required to wear a face-covering and NSTS will work to accommodate those individuals as well as other with identified needs.

Registering for transportation

Parents and guardians must notify NSTS using the online portal if their child will be using transportation services by Sept. 7 at 3:00 p.m. If NSTS is not notified by then, transportation will be removed in the second week of school.

The initial deadline for the first week of school was Sept. 3 by 10:00 a.m., but NSTS “did not remove transportation yet and left students on the bus for the first week of school.”

Final transportation plans for the first day of school will be posted on the parent portal on Sept. 3 by 10 a.m.

Final transportation plans for the second week of school will be posted by Wednesday, Sept. 9 at 10 a.m.

Transportation plans will be released each Wednesday at 10 a.m. for the following week on the parent portal. If parents do not see arrangements for their child, their child will not be on the passenger list and alternative transportation arrangements should be made to get their child to school.

Bus stop location changes or exceptions requests will not be accepted until Oct. 1 at the earliest.

Address and other arrangement changes

Please contact the child’s school for address changes and registration or notify NSTS on the parent portal.

The deadline to make address changes for week one has already passed. The deadline to make address changes for week two will be Sept. 7 at 3 p.m. (if received through the parent portal).

Other changes will take seven to ten days to process. Changes must be made by 3 p.m. each Monday. These changes will be updated in the portal two days later on Wednesday morning by 10 a.m. and will become affective the following Monday.

NSTS will try their best to accommodate address changes and requests. In the event they are not able to, parents/guardians may be required to make alternative transportation arrangements for their children.

Kindergarten transportation and First Ride:

Kindergarten families or families without an Ontario Education Number (OEN) will not be able to sign-in to portal.  They will need to contact NSTS (905-357-6787) for a PIN number.

The First Ride webpage is available online to help families prepare their children for their first ride on a school bus.

Updated School Bus Rules:

Below are the bus rules and guidelines that NSTS encourages students to follow:

  • As mentioned already, face coverings are required for students in Grades 4 to 12 and are strongly encouraged for students in kindergarten to Grade 3.
  • Parents/guardians must complete a screening assessment to check each student for symptoms before boarding the bus.
  • Parents/guardians and students must maintain physical distancing protocol at the bus stop and arrive five to ten minutes before the scheduled pick-up time.
  • Students are encouraged to clean their hands upon arrival at the stop and use hand sanitizer at the top of the stairs upon entering the bus.
  • Students must board the bus one at a time and only enter the bus when the stairwell is clear.
  • Students are encouraged to use the handrail while leaving and entering the bus as it will be disinfected between school runs.
  • Students are encouraged to limit the touching of other parts of the bus and to keep the bus clean.
  • Students are expected to sit in their designated seat in a similar manner as outlined above and communicated by the bus driver.
  • Students must not open, adjust, or talk outside of the windows.
  • Students should remain seated, facing forward, and in their assigned seating for the entire ride.

For more information on back-to-school transportation guidelines, please visit the NSTS website or contact NSTS.

The guidelines outlined in this plan follow the guidance of the Ministry of Education and Niagara Region Public Health and include additional safety measures put in place by the NSTS to support the health and safety of students using NSTS services.