GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With the new school year just around the corner, there are still lots of questions about what districts exactly are going to do.
Chief among those questions, what about busing?
On Friday, school buses were scrubbed down at the bus garage in the Reeths-Puffer Schools District in Muskegon County, preparing for the first full day of school will be Sept. 8.
Reeths-Puffer will offer both virtual and regular five-day per-week in classroom instruction depending on the parents’ wishes.
Like about 150 other school districts in Michigan, Reeths-Puffer uses Lansing-based Dean Transportation, the state’s largest school transportation system.
This year, the transportation systems are facing unprecedented challenges.
Kellie Dean, CEO and president of Dean Transportation, said his company is ready to do whatever it takes.
“It’s been a challenging five months for everybody,” Dean told News 8 Friday.
Dean will be taking its cues from the districts but says all drivers will be equipped with masks, face shields, gloves and will clean buses between routes.
He says the drivers will take temperatures at the stops if that is what the districts ask them to do.
“If we have opportunities to be able to social distance while on board, we will take those opportunities. But there’s not a limitation as to how many students can be on board the bus,” Dean said.
Dean said his drivers have had to live with the uncertainty of what this year will hold and many had to go on unemployment when schools shut down last spring. But he says the vast majority have returned and are looking forward to school beginning.
“We did not want to make Dean Transportation and school transportation a hindrance,” he said.
Dean touts the cleaning system used for the buses called “MicrobeCare: Antimicrobial with Unique Bonding Technology.”
That’s a trademarked system that promises to eliminate 99.99% of virus and microbial contaminates and continue to do so between treatments.
Dean says this is a hospital-grade disinfectant. Dean is the first school transportation system in the country to use it, he said.
In a video on the company website, the technical explanation is given accompanied by some animation.
“As microbes are magnetically drawn to the surface, the carbon chain pierces the microbe while the nitrogen atom electrocutes it quickly killing microbes without dissipation,” the video explains.
“I know that there will be some families that will choose in the beginning to stay home and then we believe after a good, solid start, then the buses will be there for them to access when they’re ready,” Dean said.