Student Transportation Updates for the 2021-22
The Toronto Student Transportation Group (TSTG) is responsible for organizing and leading student transportation for the TDSB and TCDSB, and has been working hard with both school boards and bus operators to ensure a safe and smooth start-up for student transportation services for the 2021-22 school year. Read more about the changes made and the health and safety protocols put in place to keep students and drivers safe.
To start the 2021-22 school year, the TSTG will once again be implementing a phased-in start for student transportation to ensure that students with special education needs are prioritized and receive bus service beginning the first week of school.
From September 9 to September 14, 2021 – only students with special education needs (excluding those in the gifted program) who travel to school on mini buses, mini vans, taxis and Wheelchair accessible vehicles will be provided with student transportation.
Starting September 15, 2021 –all other eligible students will be provided with student transportation, unless there is a significant driver shortage or other unforeseen issues related to COVID-19.
Given the continued school bus driver shortage across the province, this phased-in approach provides TSTG with additional time to identify and address any potential start-up issues, and helps to ensure that when full transportation services are in place, they are running as smoothly as possible.
Health and Safety Protocols on School Buses
The following health and safety protocols will continue to be in place on school buses for the 2021-22 school year:
- Before every trip, bus drivers, students, parents and staff must self-assess for any COVID-19 symptoms. All students and drivers who experience symptoms must self-isolate and stay home. If a child develops symptoms while at school, he/she will not be permitted to return home on a school bus and must be picked up by a parent/guardian or provided a safe alternate means of transportation.
- All students (K to 12) will be required to wear non-medical masks, given the potential for close contact on a school bus. Exceptions will be made for students with medical conditions or special needs.
- School bus drivers will be required to wear medical masks and/or face shields when picking up and dropping off students. Where possible, the seat directly behind the driver will remain empty to maintain physical distancing.
- Students will be assigned seats on the bus. Students who live in the same household or who are in the same classroom cohort will be seated together.
- Whenever possible, windows will be opened to increase ventilation on the bus.
- Enhanced cleaning for high touch surfaces (e.g. seats, inside hand railing, interior windows and walls, etc.) will be performed before and after each shift, as well as in between runs.
- Hand sanitizer will be made available on the bus, and drivers will use sanitizer before and after assisting a child to their seat (if applicable), touching wheelchairs or other assistive devices, or having other direct contact with children, as needed throughout a trip and where gloves are not able to be used.
Empty Seat Policy
Once again, the TDSB’s Empty Seat Policy (PR504) has been put on hold for the 2021-22 school year to help promote physical distancing on school busses, as well as to help the TSTG and bus operators effectively plan bus routes and seating arrangements in line with the COVID-19 health and safety precautions.
All parents/guardians with children who take the bus to school are encouraged to sign up for the Student Transportation Parent Portal to access important information and updates. The Parent Portal gives you access to transportation information specific to your child, including route number, stop location, times and bus company contact details. There is also the web based “where’s my bus” tool that will indicate the whereabouts of the bus for those who are registered.
If you have additional questions about student transportation for the 2021-22 school year, please call the transportation office temporary start-up number at 647-790-3829 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.