Telephone: 780.778.2800 Toll Free: 1.800.262.8674

Busing Information for Re-entry this Fall

Northern Gateway Public Schools is committed to ensuring a safe, caring and respectful return to school and that starts the moment a child boards an NGPS bus in the morning. We know families have questions about student transportation for the 2020–21 school year. We encourage parents to read the NGPS 2020-21 COVID-19 Re-entry Handbook for detailed information about the strategies and health measures the Division will implement to support the health, safety and learning of students and staff. 

Just like classrooms this year, transportation will look different for students. If your child is riding the bus in 2020–21, here’s what you need to know:

SCHOOL BUS TRANSPORTATION UNDER SCENARIO 1
In-school classes resume with health measures

Parents are encouraged to drive children to school when possible to decrease the number of students on buses. We can anticipate increased traffic volume before and after school. Please keep potential traffic delays in mind and follow any traffic flow instructions for drop-off and pick up.

PHYSICAL DISTANCING, MASKS AND SEATING PLANS

  • Physical distancing will be very challenging on a school bus and maintaining a two metre distance will be nearly impossible.
  • As per the Alberta Government’s August 4 announcement, all students in Grades 4 to 12 are required to wear masks for the duration of the bus ride. Mask use is not mandatory for students in Grades K to 3; however, is strongly encouraged. Mandatory mask use for Grades K to 3 may be considered going forward. School staff and bus drivers are required to wear a mask while loading and unloading students, and for the duration of bus service.
  • Assigned and recorded seating plans will be used on school buses. Bus drivers will ask students to sit in a specific seat when they board the bus. On many bus routes, it is not possible to limit the number of passengers to one child per seat. When possible, students will be asked to share a seat with individuals from the same household. 
  • Procedures that support physical distancing of 2 metres between students (except household members), when possible, will be used for student loading, unloading and transfers.
  • Students must not be in the pick-up area or enter the bus if they have symptoms of COVID-19.

Bus schedules will be impacted as students, staff and bus drivers become familiar with new processes.

STUDENTS WHO NEED SPECIALIZED SUPPORTS AND SERVICES

Schools are developing transportation plans for students who need specialized supports and services that will include special loading and unloading procedures. These plans will ensure students arrive safely at their classrooms, while adhering to all safety protocols.

Educational Assistants who ride the yellow bus with students will be required to wear a mask on the bus and may wear additional personal protective equipment as required. 

ILLNESS AND COVID-19 SYMPTOMS

  • Students who are sick must stay home and should not board a bus or come to school.
  • Parents, students, bus drivers and NGPS staff must complete the Daily Health Check, every day, prior to boarding the bus or coming to school to ensure they do not have any symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If you answer “Yes” to any of the Daily Health Check questions, please DO NOT board the bus or enter the school. You must stay home and use the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to determine whether you need to be tested for COVID-19. 

IF A BUS DRIVER IS ILL

  • A bus driver must not drive a school bus if they have any symptoms.
  • We will make every attempt to find a replacement driver.
  • There is a chance that a spare driver will not be in place in time for either a morning or afternoon run.
  • Families must be prepared to make alternate arrangements if we cannot get a replacement bus driver in time. Families will be notified of interruptions to bus service via the Bus Status tab on our website at ngps.ca and on the Division’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.

IF A STUDENT APPEARS TO BE ILL ON THE BUS

The student will be moved to a separate seat on the bus away from other children if possible. A mask will be provided to the ill student if necessary to wear while they await pick up by their parent at their school. On arrival at the school, the driver will inform the principal immediately, so that the child can be isolated in the school. The school will contact the parent and notify them that either they or one of their designated emergency contacts must pick up their child.

Re-entry scenarios may change and vary by geographic location as required.

CLEANING

Yellow school bus contractors are expected to have cleaning plans in place that are consistent with guidelines provided by the Government of Alberta.

Bus drivers are responsible for increased frequency of cleaning and disinfecting of high touch surfaces at the end of every trip. More detailed disinfection and cleaning is performed on a regular basis when buses are not in service at the end of the day.

WHITECOURT TRANSFER STATIONS

Rural buses will continue to complete their transfers at our three transfer sites in Whitecourt:

  • School staff will be on hand to assist in a smooth transfer of students.
  • We have increased the area that will be used to complete the transfers. 
  • Procedures that support physical distancing of 2 metres between students (except household members), when possible, will be used for student loading, unloading and transfers. 

Please expect delays at the beginning of the school year as everyone gets used to the new protocols. 

ALTERNATE SEAT PLACEMENT REQUESTS

Alternate Seat Placement requests will be accepted and reviewed. Adding additional students onto a bus may significantly impact seating plans in some instances. A change to our re-entry scenario, or potential changes to individual school scenarios, may alter or prohibit alternate seat placement service.

The Northern Gateway Public Schools 2020-21 School Relaunch Handbook outlines in detail the strategies and health measures Northern Gateway Public Schools will implement to support the health and safety of our students and staff.

For more information on Busing and Transportation please contact the Transportation Department at transportation@ngps.ca or (780) 778-2800, 1-888-785-3396, (780) 524-3833