The transportation staff of Lake Shore Public Schools is excited to be transporting students once more.

The transportation staff of Lake Shore Public Schools is excited to be transporting students once more.

Photo provided by Lake Shore Public Schools

Busing returns to Lake Shore Public Schools this month

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published April 6, 2021


ST. CLAIR SHORES — A staple of many school days, the bus, has been absent for the school year in Lake Shore Public Schools.

But this month, the yellow buses are back.

Valerie Harvey, transportation coordinator for Lake Shore Public Schools, said she is very excited to be able to bring busing back to the district. With a team of 11 drivers and three substitutes covering nine routes, there had been concern earlier in the school year that one exposure to COVID-19 or a positive case in the department could have the potential to “take down the whole department.” But with more opportunities for school staff, including bus drivers, to be vaccinated, there is less fear of that scenario coming to fruition.

In addition, Harvey said since half of Lake Shore Public School students have remained fully virtual, the department will only be busing about 40% of the students they would transport in a typical year when the service resumes April 13.

“We might only have half of a bus full,” she said. “They brought the kids back four days, so they’re acclimated to being in the classrooms with additional students and stuff. We feel it’s time for them to be able to get a ride to go to school.”

The district provides busing at two of its three elementary schools and for middle school students. Students zoned for Violet Elementary School don’t meet the qualifications for distance or having to cross a main road to attend school, so busing is not provided.

When students return to the bus, they will be required to wear masks and have their hands sanitized as they board. Each bus is also cleaned with a handheld metastatic sprayer after each run of the route, and when the weather allows, the windows will be at least partially open for ventilation.

Harvey said the buses also have extra masks on board in case a student forgets their own.

The district has been providing busing for special needs students throughout the school year, and “so far, we’ve been very successful,” she said.

And while she didn’t hear much complaining in the beginning of the school year about the elimination of bus service, since the March 22 Board of Education meeting when the decision was made to resume busing, “I have seen nothing but happiness.”

“Especially, the parents are just finally relieved,” Harvey said. “Our schools are very congested at dismissal time. With three busloads of kids, it just alleviates that. I’ve had a lot of parents extremely happy that we are starting up.”

They aren’t the only ones happy with the news. Harvey said that she and the members of her department have missed seeing students on a regular basis.

“We are extremely happy to be able to see — we call them our kids — to be able to see the kids again and get back to some normalcy, at least,” she said.

Harvey said bus routes in the district have not changed in about 30 years. This year, however, there are more students returning to in-person learning at Rodgers Elementary and fewer students returning to Kennedy Middle School.

“I was able to adjust the busing at the elementary school to accommodate more students. It always works out — I don’t know how,” she said. “Our middle school kids will be transported home on three buses instead of four, which works out, because that’s how the numbers are.”

Harvey said she’s hoping for more normalcy for the 2021-22 school year.

“It’s not been a picnic trying to coordinate all of this,” she said. “I am very happy to be getting back to the drivers knowing what’s happening from day to day.”