Bundle up on the bus

The Southwick-Granville-Tolland Regional School District bus fleet was sold to the Lower Pioneer Educational Collaborative and must be driven with windows partially open due to COVID-19. (HOPE E. TREMBLAY/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

SOUTHWICK – Students taking the bus to Southwick regional schools this winter will need to dress appropriately to combat cold weather coming from open windows.

The Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative, which is the Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District’s contracted transportation provider, sent a letter to families Nov. 5 noting that because of COVID-19, bus windows will remain open for airflow.

Keeping windows open is ordered through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s guidelines.

“All windows need to be open on the school bus for air circulation to reduce potential exposure for everyone in the bus, and students need to sit in their assigned seat.  This needs to be done at all times.  In cooler weather they will not be all of the way down,” stated Charles Crowe, LPVEC transportation general manager in the letter.

The DESE guidance includes:
Mitigate airborne transmission by increasing outdoor air ventilation. Doing so helps dilute the concentration or displace the presence of an airborne virus. Opening windows can greatly increase the level of ventilation within a school bus and therefore reduce COVID-19 transmission risk.
·Keep windows open at all times during operation, unless not possible due to extreme weather conditions. Even in cold or rainy weather, bus windows should be kept open at least partially (a couple of inches), if possible.
·Consider keeping roof hatches open on buses during operation for further ventilation.

Seat assignments and boarding
Assigning specific buses, routes, and seats to students and staff in advance will limit potential exposure and make contact tracing easier to conduct.

Crowe advised riders to “dress appropriately with coats, hats, and gloves for your bus ride with the windows open.”

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