Bus drivers adjust to COVID-19 protocols

By implementing COVID-19 safety protocols, bus drivers in the Souderton Area School District are doing their best to keep students safe from COVID-19. Drivers must monitor students to ensure their safety.


Be safe in the bus, not on the bus…Bringing her students home to safety, bus driver Carrie Buskirk follows safety protocols and procedures on the bus. She was driving her students home attentively and with care. Arrowhead photo by Cole Tosi

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Souderton Area School District bus drivers must monitor safety protocols and regulations to keep the children on the bus safe.
Bus drivers are following many new safety protocols from the school district, such as wearing masks at all times, implementing seating charts, seating siblings together, opening windows and a roof hatch, disinfecting the bus after each run, and monitoring the students for safety protocols.
Many drivers are also implementing a few of their own rules and regulations, including Transportations Services school bus driver Kay Stauffer. Stauffer has been a bus driver since 1997.
Stauffer has implemented a rule in which she empties the first row of seats to create distance between her and the students for safety. She has been attempting to keep student interaction to a minimum.
“This is an unprecedented year for all of us. Safety is our number one priority, whether it is road safety or personal safety. We are very concerned about our own health, as well as yours,” Stauffer said.
Bus driver Owen Zern has developed a few new concepts and ideas about the way his bus procedures need to work and has emphasized that safety is his number one priority. Zern has his bus riders sit on the bus from back to front to prevent crowding on the bus.
“We take the responsibility we have very seriously,” Zern said “When you are on my bus, you are my child in my eyes and I will do everything in my power to keep you safe.”
Elementary school bus driver Bob Flocco has loved bus driving ever since he started, and has also created a few new procedures of his own, while following regulations from the district to keep his bus riders safe.
Flocco has also had to adjust a few of his personal habits to protect the students from infection. Some of the habits he’s had to change are no more fist bumps, chats at the top step, and Jolly Ranchers or soft pretzel days for his kids.
He believes his awareness of COVID-19 is greatly heightened with his students in mind. Flocco believes students should be commended for the way they have handled things, as he has been “astonished” with how his bus riders have adjusted.
“Seat jumping, turning around backwards, and invading other students’ space, is so far non-existent,” Flocco said. “This is astonishing to me because with the kids over the years, they taught me that upon boarding my bus squirming, twisting, turning, leaning, reaching, and grabbing started as soon as the doors closed.”
Flocco believes that even though these kids are young, they seem to understand the dangers of the pandemic.
Stauffer also believes that the students have adjusted to the new procedures to the best of their ability.
“I think the students have done quite well adhering to the rules so far. It’s actually gone a lot smoother than I anticipated,” Stauffer said.
Stauffer believes the only conflict the students have faced with her is forgetting their masks, but Stauffer carries a supply of disposable ones just in case.
Zern agrees with the idea that the students have behaved well this school year on the bus, and in fact, believes that they have been more behaved.
“If anything, I find the students are better behaved and more cooperative than they were previously,” Zern said.
Zern says that the students are still interacting with their friends and still having laughter and banter as they continue keeping on with their lives and keep growing up. Zern has learned a few things of his own through this process as well.
“I have relearned how important human interaction is to me. A simple hug or warmly clasped hand shake has been gone now for months, and I will cherish them when this pandemic is beaten back and we can go back to interacting in a usual manner,” Zern said.
Flocco and Stauffer also have learned a few things, and believe that we need to continue to adjust to the situations that come their way.
“I have improved my awareness of what I touch, what people around me touch, personal space intrusion, and personal hygiene to a more micro level,” Flocco said.
Stauffer has been very pleased with how our area has progressed to this situation and believes we need to continue to have a sense of normalcy.
“I feel as a community, and a nation that we need to continue living our lives, taking all necessary steps we can to ensure our safety,” Stauffer said, “We need to figure out how to live with this virus and maintain some normalcy for everyone.”