By Theodore Tollefson Throughout the state of Minnesota, schools went back into session on Tuesday morning with hundreds of kids arriving through the most common and reliable source of transportation …
By Theodore Tollefson
Throughout the state of Minnesota, schools went back into session on Tuesday morning with hundreds of kids arriving through the most common and reliable source of transportation to and from school for decades; school buses.
With traffic changes happening everywhere, including Hastings, now that school buses are back on the roads every weekday. Some drivers need reminders on the traffic picking back up around school zones and residential areas where kids get picked up and dropped off before and after school.
“We need them to really think about our stop arms when we’re loading kids and drivers need to stop as soon as the arm comes out,” said Terry Johnson, Terminal Manager for Hastings Bus Company. “There is going to be more traffic, we know that, and there’s going to be a lot more traffic because I think more people are gonna take their kids to school instead of putting them on the buses.”
School buses nationwide have a mandatory mask mandate from the federal government as school buses are a source of public transportation. While many school boards including Hastings have spent their summer meetings deciding how masks will be mandated within their buildings to start the 2021-22 school year. Many people have assumed that each school board has individually decided on the mandatory mask enforcement on buses for kids. This is wrong however, as it is a part of the federal mandate for public transportation.
The mask mandate has led many families to opt out of having their children ride the bus to school. Johnson has seen a decline in families signing up with the Hastings Bus Company this year compared to two years ago and believes it is mainly due to the mask mandate.
“Parents feel better about having their students ride with them rather than riding the bus because every kid has to have a mask on while riding the bus. Many of the families asked about the opt-out before the district made the decision for masks,” said Johnson.
Even with many families having opted out of having their kids take the school bus in Hastings to start this school year, Johnson does believe some families will return to using the school bus for their kids’ transportation to and from school as the year goes on.
“I think as we see things going towards the better with COVID-19, I think it will happen. I think we got a month and a half to see how things play out and after that, we’re going to realize what it’s all about, and I think it’s going to get better,” said Johnson.
For the time being though, Hastings Bus Company still plans to operate as normal prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hastings Bus Company also wishes for drivers throughout Hastings to be mindful and patient with bus traffic, especially when kids are getting on and off the buses.