With the onset of Covid-19, it seemed appropriate to outline how student transportation services deals with infectious diseases in the City of Toronto. After the SARS outbreak in 2004, all school bus operators were required to develop and keep updated on an annual basis a pandemic preparedness plan. These plans were to identify and address the following issues:

Disease Identification
Contingency Strategies
Safety Precautions
Hygiene
Branch/Office Cleaning
Bus Cleaning/Disinfection
Communications

As with most issues around the health and well-being of students and the general public the School Boards and school bus operators take direction Toronto Public Health. Once the coronavirus was identified as being in the community, a decision was made to have the school bus operators start their accelerated cleaning programs. This simply meant that the buses were cleaned on a more frequent basis than normal. After a sustained number of individuals were confirmed with the disease in the community, there was a further direction that the bus operators have their drivers perform daily disinfecting wipe downs on the bus of high touch points. This would include the handrail, exit handles, and seat tops and backs. Since the school bus may service more than one school the companies were also advised to have drivers wipe down this high touch points between school bus runs as well to help minimize the possibility of spread between school communities. Parents should continue to keep students who are sick at home and should the student become ill during the day the parent will be required to pick the child up from school. This is the same protocol used for Pediculosis (head lice) where the student is not identified with the disease until a school nurse confirms cases while at school. This is a preventative measure to help stop the spread of the disease.

Physical distancing is problematic on a school bus. The return of the school bus will likely see a significant restriction to the number of students accommodated on the bus at the same time. The most important tool for parents and the community in the fight against communicable diseases is to have access to good information. The following sites are designed to provide information for your public health needs:

World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/
Canadian Public Health: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health.html
Ontario Public Health: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/
Toronto Public Health : https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/health-wellness-care/

“In every crisis, the true heroism is self-discipline, patience and strong determination.”
― Amit Ray,