Study Explores Risk of COVID-19 Transmission During School Bus Transportation
Although school transmission of COVID-19 among K-12 students is low when protective measures are in place, the risk of contracting COVID-19 while traveling by school bus is not not clear. A study published in the School Health Journal reports on the bus transportation experience of an independent school in Virginia.
For the study, the school monitored 1,154 students with asymptomatic PCR tests every 2 weeks initially and later each week from August 28, 2020 to March 19, 2021, during the highest community transmission. Fifteen buses served 462 students while operating at a capacity close to 2 students per seat, using a minimum physical distance of 2.5 feet, universal masking and simple ventilation techniques.
There were 39 infectious cases of COVID-19 that were present on the buses during the study period, which resulted in the quarantine of 52 students. Universal testing and contact tracing did not reveal any transmission related to bus transportation.
The pandemic has made it very difficult for public schools to meet the transportation needs of students. Many districts simply don’t have enough buses and drivers to allow a 3-6 foot distance or skip rows of buses while still providing rides for all the kids. With more and more students returning to face-to-face teaching, safe transportation to school is a matter of equity, as many families are unable to get their children to school every day. day. As members of the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics School Re-Opening Task Force, we recognize that schools are under pressure to make data-driven operational decisions. We hope that the model we describe and our data can help demonstrate that school buses can operate safely at normal capacity, even at high COVID-19 case loads in the community. “
Dana Ramirez, MD, Cor the responding author, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters
Ramirez, DWE, et al. (2021) COVID-19 Transmission During Transportation of Grades 1 to 12 Students: An Independent School Experience in Virginia. Journal of School Health. doi.org/10.1111/josh.13058.