In just a couple of weeks, school districts across the lake will reopen to much uncertainty. Before any parent or student can even begin to consider homework, extracurriculars or their own health and safety, they have to figure out how exactly they are getting to school.

In just a couple of weeks, school districts across the lake will reopen to much uncertainty. Before any parent or student can even begin to consider homework, extracurriculars or their own health and safety, they have to figure out how exactly they are getting to school.

In Camdenton, Superintendent Tim Hadfield admitted that transportation was a challenge for the district. Currently, he says they are encouraging parents to transport children to school if possible.

“This will help decrease the number of students we are transporting on our buses and this will assist in social distancing as much as possible,” Hadfield said.

Hadfield explained that students utilizing district transportation will be assigned to a seat. Students who are family members will also sit together on buses. He says the district will also load buses from back to front when appropriate.

The Camdenton school district will ask parents to screen their children for any COVID symptoms prior to coming to school or boarding a bus. If students exhibit symptoms, they should not board district buses or come to school. Drivers will also screen themselves for these symptoms prior to beginning their routes. Buses will be sanitized after each route. The utilization of masks is highly encouraged as well.

“Precautions for safety will be implemented, but social distancing cannot be guaranteed,” Hadfield said. “Again, we are asking for our parents to transport their students if possible as we work through the pandemic.”

Eldon Superintendent Matt Davis says the Eldon School District has 22 bus routes with approximately 1,100 bus riders. Of those 1,100 bus riders, approximately 500 live inside the city limits. Davis is hoping the close proximity may lead to students and parents walking or riding bikes as an alternative.

“Walking and bicycling to school enables children to incorporate the regular physical activity they need each day while also forming healthy habits that can last a lifetime. Regular physical activity helps children build strong bones, muscles and joints, and it decreases the risk of obesity,” Davis said.

Davis says the school district has been working to improve healthy habits for the past several years. He says in just this past year, the district has incorporated breakfast in the classroom and an 8:30 am start time to allow more sleep for students. He says they have just finished painting pedestrian stencils on the streets. Davis did not mention any changes to the recommendation of walking and biking in the colder months of the year.

Looking at bus transportation, Davis says school buses will still be available for all students. He did not explain, however, how the district would enact any social distancing measures on said buses.

“Our buses will be disinfected before the morning and afternoon routes,” Davis said.

Macks Creek Superintendent Josh Phillips says students can expect daily temperature checks when they enter campus and will be encouraged to wear masks while riding the bus. Like Camdenton, students will be assigned seats and family groups will be asked to sit together. The buses will be sanitized after each trip.

Phillips is also asking that parents transport students if possible to reduce the number of students riding each bus.

“At this juncture, students will not be required to wear masks during the school day, but may do so if they prefer,” Phillips said. “ We are revising our attendance policies for next school year and strongly encourage anyone who is not feeling well to stay home. Any student running a temperature will be quarantined until their parents arrive to pick them up.”

School of the Osage Superintendent Laura Nelson says that currently, bus routes should remain the same. However, she says the district recognizes the adjustments that may need to be made once families have all decided between virtual and in-person classes. She says all students riding the bus will be encouraged to wear a mask and seating charts will be utilized. Extra sanitation protocols have also been added. 

School of the Osage Transportation Director Tony Hatfield says that any parents looking for more, in-depth information about routes and transportation plans can find the school's re-entry plan guidelines on the school website. The PDF available on the site shows in-depth bullet-pointed lists for every transportation scenario, including sports trips, bus loading, student conduct on buses and more. The PDF can be found here: 

https://osageschools.org/cms/one.aspx?portalId=282327&pageId=32806531

Versailles Superintendent Steven Barnes did not respond to the request for information on the subject. If any response is later received, it will be included in the online version of this article.