To and from school transportation for roughly 500 rural Manteca Unified students is resuming next week.
A relaxation of the Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 protocols on school buses is allowing more students on any given bus.
Five or six of the larger school buses that were pressed into service to handle the mandatory busing of special education students after the initial CDC rules slashed capacity on buses can now be freed up. In many cases a bus designed to carry 50 students could not have more than six onboard at a time.
District Superintendent Clark Burke noted the lack of busing was creating a hardship for many rural families.
Due to a still limited capacity based on COVID-19 rules, the district is increasing the distance from campus for students to be eligible to ride the bus.
Kindergarten through eighth graders that live beyond a two mile radius from a school campus will be eligible to ride a bus. That’s a half mile farther out than before the pandemic.
On the high school level, the new distance to be eligible for busing is three miles. Before the pandemic it was two miles for high school students.
The district is hiring drivers for vans — a less demanding license requirement for buses — as well as bus drivers.
Bus drivers currently driving vans are being switched back to buses.
Burke noted there is a national shortage of school bus drivers.
The funding to pay for the partial restoration of to and from school busing is being paid with a small part of the $49 million in federal COVID relief funds the district is receiving.
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