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Social distancing guidelines could make it tough to bus kids

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Posted at 6:52 PM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 19:52:57-04

PULASKI, Wis (NBC 26) -- Since mid-March, the Pulaski school district's fleet of buses have sat idle. But within just a couple of month's time that will likely change.

"We are on track to have a full staff come back in at the beginning of fall to start out the school year," says Transportation Supervisor Tracy Szymanski with the Pulaski school district.

Szymanski says her drivers are prepared to once again pick up over two thousand students a day when classes resume.

"Anywhere from 30 to 70 students per bus route."

But right now the concern is that the current CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will be in place and instead of students, their buses will be full of empty seats.

"They're telling us one (student) per seat, every other seat. So dropping it to about 13 per bus," says Szymanski.

The issue is school districts across the state, including Pulaski, don't have enough buses to accommodate current social distancing restrictions or drivers to get the potential workload done. And in Pulaski, the drivers need to cover nearly 180 square miles to get kids to class as it's one of the largest sized districts in the state.

"It's very complicated I think to be a school district that has the large space that we have for our transportation and knowing that we are going to have to decide how we're going to get our kids back to school this fall," says Allison Space the Superintendent of the Pulaski School District.

Space says she and other districts across Wisconsin are waiting on guidance from the state for additional insight on how to bring students back to class in the safest manner possible.

She adds that in the weeks ahead Pulaski staff are going to be asking parents for their feedback trying to get a consensus from the community about what their concerns are regarding public transportation and how moms and dads would like to see it accomplished.

"We're working on it as best as we can and families of Pulaski area will be getting a survey and we'll just look for that feedback and we'll make a good solid plan from that."

But for now, the question still remains, how can a district without the manpower, equipment, or funding get the job done? At least according to the current guidelines that are in place.

"I don't imagine it's doable for any school district," adds Szymanski.

On Monday the State Department of Public Instruction plans to put out guidelines for schools across the state on how to reopen schools safely.