BURLINGTON – School officials remain in the process of finalizing a transportation plan for this upcoming year.
Burlington Public Schools recently moved forward with a hybrid reopening plan, seeing that students only learn in class for part of the week so the need for bus transportation isn’t the same as it was before the novel coronavirus.
School Supt. Dr. Eric Conti spoke to the School Committee about the status of the transportation plan for this school year which starts Sept. 10. Dr. Conti pointed out that the district’s typical robust transportation services for all students is a general negative with the pandemic affecting routes and in-class learning.
“One of the challenges is we offer such a ubiquitous level of service that the changes we are going to need to make are very different from what we currently do,” Dr. Conti said to the committee.
He disclosed a recent parent survey in the district divulged only 30 percent of families say they will use school buses, which Dr. Conti says, “Will help” but he still wants to probe families in an effort to address their specific needs and concerns.
There is also the aspect of Burlington’s neighborhoods being more spread out and less concentrated than other districts, resulting in complex bus routes.
“We have some busy roads and [I-95] running through Burlington, so we cannot necessarily use concentric measures because there are parts of town more conducive to walking and other parts that are not,” professed Dr. Conti. “I would almost rather say we are not going to provide any transportation, but I know people need it. I do not know how it is going to work right now.”
Some of the state guidelines for school bus transportation make it mandatory for districts to only use one-third of a bus, so social distancing measures are met. School officials continue to work with the district’s bus provider, Trombly Motor Coach Service, on finalizing the number of kids definitely planning on taking the bus as well as taking the necessary steps to create the proper bus routes for those kids.
Dr. Conti did reveal the tentative plan is to provide more buses to neighborhoods that need more transportation.
“We are going to try to use an equity lens,” he described. “Distributing buses equally might not be the best approach because we may need to send more buses to neighborhoods with more children needing transportation.”
With school starting in less than four weeks, expect updates on this matter in the coming days.