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Bus companies prepare for new safety protocols as students head back to school this fall

Education

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH) — Going to school starts, of course, with simply getting there. With the release of the state’s detailed schools reopening plan on Monday, school bus companies are preparing for full buses and new social distancing protocols.

The state said buses should plan to operate close to capacity based on current COVID-19 numbers. All riders will be required to wear a mask.

“The hardest part about driving school buses is definitely having to manage all the kids at the same time,” said driver Kevin Devivo, who works for the family business, New Britain-based DATTCO. “You want to keep them safe by making sure they are sitting down and behaving themselves, not touching one another or getting into fights.”

Even with eyes in the back of his head after six years of bus driving, Devivo knows he and his dad have an even tougher job ahead as the governor plans on in-person classes for all kids.

“Not only are we going to have to make sure they’re staying in their seats, we’re going to have to make sure they’re maintaining a good social distance, that they’re not touching one another,” he said.

“We’re going to have normal capacity on the bus which means that you’re going to fill the bus, but the kids will be wearing masks,” said Donald Devivo, President of DATTCO.

They’re also electrostatic cleaning all buses and are stocked with PPE for drivers.

The bus company plans to hand out masks for anyone who needs them at the beginning of the school year, and drivers will get remote training on the latest safety protocols.

The Devivos know some of their older employees may not be ready to come back. So, they’re hiring, too. Most importantly, they’re communicating with the state and local districts, all keeping an eye on how Connecticut fares with pandemic infection rates heading into September.

The Devivos said all of this is still in the early stages, and there are still more questions than answers. The information, and with it the protocols, could change weekly.

“We have to be adaptable and be willing to change and ready to change when new information comes out,” said Donald Devivo.

“I want to see these kids get back to school and back to learning in the way they are used to,” added his son.

News 8 inquired about school bus monitors for making sure kids wear masks and social distancing. The company said those are typically school district employees, and it will be up to each district to add them to the transportation plan.

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