CINCINNATI – School transportation plays a critical role in a safe and healthy back-to-school season. First Student is leading the industry with the introduction of Start Safe™, a comprehensive program that outlines safety and operating procedures to reduce and prevent transmission of COVID-19.
“While we look forward to students returning to the classroom, we know we must do things differently this year to provide a safe start and finish to each school day,” said First Student President Paul G. Osland. “As the largest student transportation company in North America, it’s our responsibility to develop industry-leading standards that prioritize the health, safety and well-being of our employees and passengers. With Start Safe, we deliver on this promise while helping our district partners, parents and students feel comfortable and confident about the safety of school buses during the pandemic.”
First Student created the Start Safe task force, comprised of more than 20 senior-level, cross-functional subject matter experts, to drive the company’s approach to combating COVID-19.
The company then collaborated with government agencies, healthcare organizations, university research teams and school bus manufacturers to test and share information and determine First Student’s approach.
These insights informed First Student’s Start Safe measures on school buses and at the company’s nearly 500 locations across North America. First Student’s approach includes:
• Face Coverings: First Student is providing employees with face coverings and requires that they are worn at First Student locations and on the bus. Consistent with CDC guidelines, if a face covering obstructs or impairs the drivers’ vision, the driver is permitted to remove the face covering while operating the vehicle safely.
• Employee Training and Protocols: In addition to addressing face coverings, First Student’s new Start Safe employee training includes new safety protocols such as identifying COVID-19 symptoms, reducing in-person contact between co-workers and social distancing in high-traffic areas.
• Disinfected and Protected School Buses: First Student is working to make the school bus as clean as possible. It offers two bus disinfectant options for district partners — a daily disinfectant, and an antimicrobial surface protectant that provides strong, long-lasting antimicrobial protection against a range of viruses, bacteria and pathogens.
• Safe Social Distancing: First Student is partnering with school districts to establish specific social distancing solutions, including limiting the number of students transported per route, assigning seats and developing new loading and unloading procedures. In addition, First Student has available interior seat stickers and step signage to convey social distancing requirements in a student-friendly way.
First Student is working with each of its nearly 1,100 school district partners to create customized transportation plans based on direction provided by states, provinces or cities.
To further support school districts and their communications about school bus safety, First Student created the Start Safe webpage which includes information about Start Safe, videos, sample social media posts and Safety Dog Zoom backgrounds. First Student also created a parent and student page with materials such as tip sheets, videos, coloring/activity sheets, posters and a Safety Dog safety pledge.
About First Student, Inc.
As the leading school transportation solutions provider in North America, First Student provides the best start and finish to every school day. First Student completes five million student journeys each day, moving more passengers than all U.S. airlines combined. With a team of highly-trained drivers and the industry’s strongest safety record, First Student delivers reliable, quality services including full-service transportation and management, special-needs transportation, route optimization and scheduling, maintenance and charter services for 1,100 school district contracts. For more information, please visit firststudentinc.com.
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