State releases school bus guidelines 

Students have to wear masks, but get their own seat.

When will school buses roll? That's a question that's still being determined. -Gabrielle Mannino

Students will be required to wear masks and sit in their own seat aboard school buses this fall, according to fall reopening guidelines released Wednesday.

The new guidelines, released as a supplement to the state’s fall reopening plan, Also require bus windows to be open at all times, unless due to extreme weather, and school districts are encouraged to add a bus monitor such as a volunteer, student leader, or staff member to ensure adherence to the transportation guidelines.

Repeated attempts to reach Martha’s Vineyard superintendent Matt D’Andrea over two days to see how these guidelines would be implemented on Island were unsuccessful.

Seating on buses requires each student to have their own bench and sit on alternating sides for each row, allowing for 3 feet of physical distance. Children from the same household are allowed to sit together.

Due to the seating restrictions, ridership on all buses will significantly decrease by more than half of their maximum capacity. For example, a 47-passenger bus will only be allowed to transport a maximum of 15 passengers at a time.

The guidelines offer remedies to the new guidelines by calling for school districts to encourage families to seek alternative modes of transportation, modify bus schedules, and stagger school start and end times.

Students will most likely be assigned to a single bus and their own seat on that bus. Orderly boarding and drop-off protocols must also be followed.

“Students boarding the bus at the beginning of the route should be assigned seats at the rear of the bus, and students boarding the bus at the end of the route should be assigned seats at the front,” the guidelines state.

The guidelines also require that The interior of the buses be cleaned and disinfected at least once a day. Hand sanitizer stations are to be installed at the front of glasses. Roof hatches and windows should be left open. 

Bus drivers or bus monitors should be trained to observe students entering buses. If students appear to be symptomatic they should not enter the school bus.

This comes as schools are putting together their comprehensive fall reopening plans to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) in August. The guidelines also require schools to develop plans for how students with disabilities, English language learners, and others will receive necessary services.

The state is requiring school districts to develop three back-to-school models: in-person learning with new safety requirements, hybrid learning, and remote learning. 

The state’s primary goal is for in-person learning, which has all students and staff return to school, with classrooms and schedules modified to meet health requirements. Schools should prioritize developing an in-person model, according to the guidance.

Under hybrid learning, school districts would develop an alternating schedule for students, such as having students switch between in-person and remote learning on alternating weeks or days of the week.

The remote learning model is for students who are not able to return in person, and for all students in the event there is a spike in cases and schools are closed.



  1. What a dilemma for parents… and teachers and school bus drivers and all adult school personnel.

    • It’s not a dilemma for Trump, who admittedly is not human, but his sycophants over at the CDC just dehumanized children and those who take care of them. Barron Trump’s school is not opening this fall and all those special classmate offspring of the elite are too important to be spreaders, unlike our children who are welcome to become unwitting little killers.

      • I think that you are being ever so slightly unfair to the man who clearly won the most Electoral College votes.

  2. Parents– get your kid a bicycle and teach them how to ride it safely.
    And please– don’t bother telling me about first graders or handicapped kids, or that some days it will snow or rain or we will have a hurricane or any other nonsense. It is a suggestion that will only provide a partial solution some of the time.
    But a partial solution is better than no solution.

  3. Such a mess. ???? The guidelines are better than letting nature take its course, which was suggested and originally distracted me from mulling over the actual timing. But it’s still too soon to open and implement them if parents and school employees do not want to go back yet. Which many across the country don’t. I’m not sure how our local teachers are feeling. And Jackie makes a good point — if this virus is nothing to worry about, why do the Trumps continue to benefit from an abundance of caution not available to everyone else? At the same time, I’m extremely concerned about parents who are not set up financially to homeschool. Those who need to work during school hours. I hope there is a right answer somewhere.

  4. I don’t understand why Martha’s Vineyard superintendent Matt D’Andrea can’t provide some guidance for a population that needs some leadership !

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