Another one rides the bus: School officials discuss transportation, quarantine protocols

Oct 19, 2020

As of Oct. 19, all grades are back in school. Along with life returning inside Dartmouth High, this date also marks the first time since March that buses have transported students from all 13 grades.

According to School Business Administrator Jim Kiely, the first full day of busing “went very well,” but noted that transportation will continue to be “an ongoing and developing process” for at least a few weeks.

“Parents, I think, have different levels of comfort with sending their kids on the bus and that is continuing to change — which is challenging for us,” he said at a school committee meeting on Monday. 

One issue Vice Chair Dr. Shannon Jenkins noticed in the weeks since hybrid learning first began is that buses have had the habit of arriving at their stops sooner than expected.

“I’ve had that happen to us — the first week of school the bus was 15 minutes early while we were ten,” she said. 

Kiely said one reason for the early buses is likely because drivers are still adapting to having half their usual riders, resulting in fewer stops on their typical routes. He added that with five new grade levels returning this week, buses shouldn’t be as early as they have been.

“There’ll be some adjustments for the next week or two until we get a true picture of who is riding on a daily basis,” he said.

At the same meeting, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bonny Gifford reminded families about the district’s quarantine policy if someone tests positive for Covid-19. 

Earlier this month, Gifford sent a letter to parents announcing that one member of the Dartmouth High School community had tested positive for the virus, but that individual has since tested negative.

The superintendent noted that there are some potential cases the district is currently awaiting results for, but that there “are no positives as of this minute.”

If someone does feel sick, nurses will look into the symptoms and that person will quarantine at home. Those who are symptomatic will be asked to get tested immediately.

If students do have to quarantine at home, Gifford said schools are working individually to make sure kids keep up with their academics.

At the middle school, Gifford said the plan involves maintaining its Google classrooms and that students will have access to advisory periods, along with coaches agreeing to check-in with students to track their progress.

“It’s such a new world,” she said.