Busing Update pt. 1 (answer the phone)
Our goal is sharing--in 2 blogs today--all the info we could gather from other busing advocates including the workers/union (ATU 1181-1061), and OPT about the status of NYC school bus routes.
We can’t tell families what to do about remote vs. blending. It’s all at your own risk unfortunately.
To those who have chosen blended learning: one thing that is normal this year is that you will want to have a Plan B and C for the first few days of busing!
CONTENTS of Email 1- Communication; First day on bus
Email 2 will be about PPE supplies /mask exemption; projected Ventilation/Cleaning measures
COMMUNICATION such as it is
We're told the companies are making calls this weekend based on routes OPT continues sending them. Parents, pay attention to your phone, even calls from unknown numbers.
OPT created an update Fri/Sat, fyi:
Top Ways to get individual student route info:
--phone call from/to last year's bus crew
[We know this doesn't help Pre K much but D75 and non-public parents and workers have had success in deciphering the routes this way over the past week].
--call last year's bus co. Including 8am-5pm on Sunday 9/20
If Public school with or without an IEP, also:
--Set up NYCSA account at https://mystudent.nyc, aka https://www.schools.nyc.gov/learning/student-journey/nyc-schools-account ,
update your contact info as needed, find route & bus co. info
Staff at non public schools are referred by DOE to find the transportation support liaison Transportation Support for Charter & Non-Public Schools: https://infohub.nyced.org/in-our-schools/operations/transportation-resources-for-schools#jump-to-heading-18
They can also contact BusingExceptions@schools.nyc.gov and copy us or ccse@schools for help with forwarding to a specific individual in charge of this.
The backup email for 3 K, Pre K and Early Intervention is EarlyChildhoodBusing@schools.nyc.gov
For now, do not waste time checking snail mail or calling the Office of Pupil Transportation.
There are no yellow route letters & DOE’s entire phone system is in limbo since March.
The OPT line 718 392 8855 is useless at this time. It has a long message, in English only, about the website...
In any case, Compare what OPT says with what school says, especially about Model, Cohort, and SESSION TIME.*
What we mean by Session Time = the start and end of the school day. Routes were based on last year but some schools’ new models change all that. Drivers are forced to follow the route as written or be penalized, meaning your children may be set up to arrive early/late for some weeks.
If there is a discrepancy between real life session time and the routed session time, Be proactive: Talk to the school about what safely distanced supervision they can offer; talk to the bus crew about whether they can park with students and wait until school staff can receive them. Decide whether to use the route and complain to OPT daily about it, or to use your plan B until it’s fixed. Check how to avoid being subject to rules about losing busing for 3 absences!
FIRST DAY ON BUS
Reminder -- unless it changes again: the first day for in person citywide District 75 self contained programs (but not Inclusion programs!) is either Mon 9/21, Thurs 9/24, or Tues 9/29. Make sure you and the bus crew all know your school’s Model (such as 4A) and your child’s Cohort (A starts first, B, C if any goes every day, D stays remote every day).
If you don’t happen to have a blank OPT Emergency Contact Card, get the information together on some other paper and/or bring a pen downstairs that morning. The bus companies are supposed to give those cards to drivers and attendants and allow them to wait while you fill it out but be ready with names & phone numbers, wearing your mask, staying 6 feet away, not sharing pens. This card is meant to be on the bus before the first return trip from school!
Anticipate problems if you bring the child to school yourself without taking care of that.
The Nycsa info is a fallback but bus workers are told not to be on devices while they are with your children except to call the company, so think and discuss this before you act.
Seating charts were shared with all bus companies so we acquired a sample diagram (if it's not attached, see https://twitter.com/pistnyc/status/1307353427710705666/photo/1. Teach children that they can only sit by a window, with nobody sitting directly behind or in front of them, including the driver/attendant.
It’s possible that one person in a given row of seats sits on the aisle:
If there is a bus para/nurse you can decide with that provider and the attendant whether the para/nurse sits right beside the child or on the opposite window.
Children from the same household can sit together
(we hope but can’t verify for all miniwagons that this would not put someone less than 6 feet from the unrelated child in the opposite window. Please reply if you know).
We're not sure what the seat markings will be but one rumor is a smiley face. DOE told the state parents would be primed on this, (see
https://www.schools.nyc.gov/school-year-20-21/district-school-reopening-plan-submission-to-nysed/transportation) but despite us asking OPT and ATU all week we have no definitive answer at this writing about who is placing these and when, or how it looks, which makes us wonder if that info has been uniformly transmitted. The update from OPT only says
D75 and early childhood staff also want to know this so they can help students learn it and avoid mistakes that violate social distancing.
Boarding is meant to be back to front and exiting front to back so that students don’t cross each other. Schools often have aides to help on that end--but remember, many staff have taken remote accommodations.
Help us keep the conversation going in the school bus community on https://www.facebook.com/pistnyc/ https://twitter.com/pistnyc and http://pistnyc.org/