When school buses start running again, what changes would you recommend to protect drivers and to make parents comfortable with putting their children on the bus? Partitions for drivers, increased space behind the driver, fewer students in bus, etc.?

The first step is for pupil transportation services to closely monitor local requirements.  Recommendations or requirements may have been issued for social distancing, use of masks or occupancy. One of the most important tasks is to ensure that proper cleaning steps are taken.  Other actions may depend in part on the age of the students,  their ability to follow instructions and need for interaction of the driver or an attendant with the students. 

In an ideal transit bus situation, there would be a partition between the driver and passengers, with passengers being required to enter from a rear or center door.  Drivers, attendants and passengers should wear masks and maintain at least 6 feet separation (limit number of passengers, i.e. one per seat and every other row).  But the need for separation may vary based on local requirements and the current situation in that area. . Use of face covering and driver /attendant and pupil temperature or symptom screening should be considered. 
If possible given the age  of students, weather and  local requirements, opening windows can increase air circulation.

Alcohol based hand sanitizers should be available as should be sanitizing wipes to wipe down surfaces. 

Cleaning should follow CDC recommendation for cleaning1,2,3. High touch areas should be cleaned between each trip (runs) from homes to school and school to homes if the bus makes multiple runs per day.  The entire bus should be cleaned each day.

High touch areas include:
Handrails for entering and exiting the vehicle
Arm Rests
Seatbelts (if applicable)
Driver Steering Wheel
Dash Area
Head Rests
Interior Luggage Racks/Hand holds
Exterior Luggage Bay Handles
Restroom Door Handles
Restroom Handrails

How to Clean and Disinfect: 
Hard (Non-porous) Surfaces
  • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • For disinfection, most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
    • A list of products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 is available at https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all at cleaning and disinfection products for concentration, application method and contact time, etc.
    • Additionally, diluted household bleach solutions (at least 1000ppm sodium hypochlorite) can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application, ensuring a contact time of at least 1 minute, and allowing proper ventilation during and after application. It should be noted that children are a vulnerable population and even small amounts of cleaning products in the air may be irritating enough to irritate airways in children with asthma so children should not be present when cleaning is occurring and they should not be allowed onto the bus until all appreciable odors have completely dissipated. Staff assigned to perform the cleaning function should similarly be evaluated for respiratory conditions that may put them at risk when performing this task. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.

Soft (Porous) Surfaces

  • For soft (porous) surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes, remove visible contamination if present and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces. After cleaning:
    • If the items can be laundered, launder items in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and then dry items completely.
      • Otherwise, use products that are EPA-approved4 for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 and that are suitable for porous surfaces
  • For electronics if used,  such as tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, and ATM machines, remove visible contamination if present.
    • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products.
    • Consider the use  of wipeable covers for electronics.
    • If no manufacturer guidance is available, consider the use of alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol to disinfect touch screens. Dry surfaces thoroughly to avoid pooling of liquids.

will need to monitor the health of students and their families, notifying as appropriate in those cases where confirmed or probable cases occur and taking appropriate actions based on local and CDC recommendations (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/guidance-for-schools.html). These guidelines will need to be modified based on local situation and requirements.  If a pupil becomes ill while at school, they should be sent home via other than school bus transportation.  

For the driver or any attendant, much of the standard guidance to protect yourself should be followed5;
  • Limit close contact with others by maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet, when possible.
  • Avoid touching surfaces that are often touched by others.
  • Use gloves if required to touch surfaces contaminated by body fluids.
  • Practice routine cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces, including surfaces in the driver cockpit commonly touched by the operator.
  • Proper hand hygiene is an important infection control measure. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.


1. CDC. Cleaning and Disinfection for Community Facilities. 

2. CDC. Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html 

3. CDC. Cleaning and Disinfection for Community Facilities. 

4. EPA List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2. https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2

5. What Bus Transit Operators Need to Know About COVID-19. 

Additional Resources:

National School Transportation Association. COVID-19. http://www.yellowbuses.org/news-and-resources/covid-19-resources/

National Association of for Pupil Transportation – COVID- 19. https://www.napt.org/content.asp?contentid=275

National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services. http://www.nasdpts.org/Documents/NASDPTS%20Information%20Report-Coronavirus%20and%20Student%20Transportation.pdf 

Department of Education. COVID-19 ("Coronavirus") Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel. https://www.ed.gov/coronavirus?src=feature  - 

School Bus Fleets. School Districts Take Precautions Against Coronavirus


Return to Forum

The Forum does not necessarily represent an official ACOEM position. The Forum is intended for health professionals and is not intended to provide medical or legal advice, including illness prevention, diagnosis or treatment, or regulatory compliance. Such advice should be obtained directly from a physician and/or attorney. Questions are answered with the best available data or recommendations at the time.