Manatee County students must “Register to Ride” buses this school year

Manatee County students must “Register to Ride” buses this school year
All families who are planning for their children to ride the bus must sign up online by June 30th. This way each student can be assigned to a bus before the start of the school year, and so the Manatee County School District can get to planning now on how many different routes they’ll have to add. (Source: WALB)

BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - The Manatee County School District had its parents and employees weigh in on its re-opening plan. In the survey, officials were also informing the school community about a few changes they should expect come August.

There are still about two months left for the start of the school year, but since leaders have no idea what the CDC guidelines will be by then, they have to plan for all scenarios – especially for how to get students to and from school.

"That's probably going to be the biggest challenge that we're facing. The recommendation right now is predominantly one student per seat,” Cynthia Saunders, the Superintendent of Manatee County Schools, said.

In order to control social distancing on school buses, Manatee County is asking parents to “register to ride.” All families who are planning for their children to ride the bus must sign up online by June 30. This way each student can be assigned to a bus before the start of the school year, and so the Manatee County School District can get to planning now on how many different routes they’ll have to add.

"Out of all of the suggestions on the survey, this is going to be probably the hardest one to accommodate due to the number of buses and the number of drivers transporting students,” Saunders explained.

Parents in Manatee County say there has already always been a problem with the amount of transportation available each year.

"For as long as we’ve been riding the bus, especially for the last 2-3 years, there has been a shortage of bus drivers. Which has caused several delays. Probably for the first 6 weeks of the school year, my kids were late to school every single day,” Narissa Smith, a parent of three students In Manatee County, tells us, “With there already being a shortage of bus drivers, plus now having to have one child per seat, I really don’t know how that’s going to happen.”

Plus, Smith says although parents know the district is still in the planning phase, they have a lot of questions of how things will work because of the pandemic.

“They’re also talking about having students get their temperatures taken before they get on the bus, so is that going to make us have to get to the bus stop even earlier?”

With all these new realities coming to light, parents also wonder if schools should just continue distance learning until things can go back to normal.

"I’m not sure because I’m not sure what normal is anymore. I want my kids to be back at school and with their friends, but of course, I want them to be safe. I just don’t know. It’s just going to be a completely different environment,” explained Smith.

For more information on how to “Register to Ride” click here.

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