School Bus file photo

Gwinnett County Public Schools buses are lined up at the school system’s bus yard in Suwanee in this 2019 file photo. The district has announced its preparations for transportation students to and from school for this year.

Gwinnett County residents are about to start seeing school buses driving through their neighborhoods again.

Gwinnett County Public Schools officials said bus drivers will begin running their routes in the mornings and afternoons on Wednesday. The plan is to have bus drivers get used to their routes before the district begins phasing in students returning to school later this month for families who opted for in-person instruction.

“Gwinnett County students and parents will start noticing school buses driving routes in their neighborhoods starting Wednesday, Aug. 19,” District officials said in a statement. “All GCPS bus drivers will run their assigned routes during actual drive times in the mornings and afternoons, beginning Wednesday, Aug. 19, through Tuesday, Aug. 25.

“Parents and students should look for their school’s name, which will be displayed on a card in the bus window to help parents identify their child’s bus.”

In preparation for the first wave of students returning to classrooms on Aug. 26, school system officials announced several steps that are being taken to keep children safe on the buses in light of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus disease pandemic.

This includes cleaning all buses and following practices recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale Health Departments for disinfecting buses. Buses are to be cleaned and disinfected daily after morning routes and again after afternoon routes as well.

Gwinnett County Public School said it has more than 1,980 school buses that expected to transport more than 133,744 students twice a day this school year, making it the third largest school transportation system in the nation.

The school system’s bus drivers are expected to collectively drive 8,167 runs — or more than 131,000 miles — per day this year, with 45,076 bus stops. District officials also said their drivers drive a total of nearly 24 million miles during the course of a full school year.

During the first three weeks of in-person instruction, parents will be asked to have their children to their assigned bus stop 15 minutes before their scheduled pick-up time.

“In addition, they should plan for routes to run a little slower during the time when the district transitions more students back to school as drivers will go through additional procedures before releasing students at their bus stops to ensure the safety of students, especially young students who are new bus riders,” district officials said.

“This means that many buses may run behind schedule, especially on the afternoon routes.”

Parents are also being asked to review bus stop safety with their children, especially those who are first-time riders. Some safety recommendations the district is asking parents and children to review include:

♦ Not sending kids to a bus stop when the child does not feel well

♦ Understanding that the wearing of face masks is required while riding on buses

♦ Taking children to their assigned bus stop, and pointing out easily rec♦ ognizable landmarks, before the return to in-person instruction begins, to help the kids become familiar with the area

♦ Teaching kids to not get off the bus if they are uncertain about a stop and letting the bus driver take the kid back their school so administrators can contact the parents

♦ Setting a child’s routine starting on the first day of in-person instruction

♦ Planning with other parents to have an adult supervisor present at the bus stop each morning and afternoon

School system officials said parents should call their child’s school if their kid does not get off their school bus at their assigned bus stop. They can call the district’s transportation department at 770-513-6686 if they can’t get ahold of anyone at the school.

Questions about special education transportation services can be addressed by calling 770-513-6881.

Parents can also call their child’s assigned school if they need answers to pick up or delivery questions, although they can call the transportation department if officials at the school do not have an answer.

District officials said a transportation alternate address for or transportation parent authorization form has to be filled out each year to provide service to other addresses besides their home address. Kids will otherwise be scheduled to be picked up or delivered at their home address, unless they have one of those forms on file, or if they have a documented disability that requires a change.

Parents or guardians who have questions about the forms can call 678-226-7036.

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I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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