MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — About 4,000 students at Mankato Area Public Schools typically ride the bus each year. This year, that will be different.
“We have many fewer families signing up for busing than normal. Anecdotally, what we’re hearing from some families is that this year they might, at least until we get through the pandemic, they might transport their students,” explained Tom Sager, director of business services at Mankato Area Public Schools.
But students who do hop on a bus in September can expect similar rules to other public spaces, as well as some supervisors to make sure the rules are followed.
“We’re working on getting adults on the buses, particularly with the younger kids with their masks and social distancing to keep everybody safe,” Sager said.
Like classrooms and most other spaces, Mankato Area Public Schools are seating school buses at 50% capacity. That means one student per seat, no seat buddies, unless the students live together.
This is also the first year MAPS will implement tiered busing — meaning different pick-up and drop-off times for elementary and secondary students. Sager says the change, decided pre-pandemic, will allow for more room on each bus.
“All the students were riding at the same time. Now we have the same number of buses, same number of drivers, but only half the students, because we do an elementary run and a secondary run,” Sager said.
Sanitation will also be a top priority. Each bus will be thoroughly cleaned after each morning ride, and after students are dropped off in the afternoon. All these changes are part of MAPS’ number one goal, which is the safety of students, staff and other stakeholders.
“We’re really looking forward to the start of school. It’s going to look different. And our number one priority is always student safety,” Sager concluded.