Students, drivers adjust to COVID-19 changes, procedures


Briana Gonzales

Students board the bus at Dobie Jr. High after school on Oct. 13.

Schertz Cibolo Universal City ISD leaders have been taking steps to keep students and staff safe and healthy during the COVID-19 Pandemic. There are many new rules and procedures in place and district officials say that things are going smoothly.

Hailey Dickerson, an in-person 8th grade student, said that there are noticeable differences on the bus this year. “This year is really different–we have to get hand sanitizer and we also have to sit one per seat,” she said. 

Francisco Perez, SCUCISD Director of Transportation and Demographic Services, said in an emailed response to Dobie News, that during a normal school year, the district transports close to 7,000 students on a daily basis.  “We have a fleet of 135 buses and a staff of 150 including bus drivers, bus monitors, mechanics, office staff and supervisors.”

Mr. Francisco Perez, SCUCISD Transportation Director (SCUCISD)

There are less students riding the bus this year and several new procedures, including: 

  • Students and staff are required to wear a mask/face covering while riding the bus.  
  • Students must use hand sanitizer as they enter the bus and load to the back of the bus first.
  • Students are asked to sit as close to the window to maximize spacing and the windows will be partially open when possible.  
  • Drivers are disinfecting the buses multiple times throughout the day in between schools and at the end of their morning and afternoon routes.  

Perez said that he is proud of the district’s students. “Our students have been doing an excellent job keeping their masks up, using hand sanitizer and following the seating instructions,” he said. “We ask them to continue following our health and safety protocols and not get complacent.”

“The job of keeping everyone safe isn’t easy, Perez said. “I would like students and parents to know that our transportation staff is working extremely hard to reduce the exposure to COVID as best we can.  I would also like to thank them for their cooperation.”

Ms. Connie Caruso, lead bus driver

Connie Caruso, SCUCISD Lead Bus Driver, has been a bus driver for 21 years and this is her 19th year driving for SCUCISD. She said that she has about 40 students for all three of her bus routes. “I drive for Jordan Intermediate, Dobie Jr. High and Steele High School,” she said. “Yes it is quite different as I average about 40 kids for each route.” 

Ms. Connie Caruso, SCUCISD Lead Bus Driver (Eileen Fletcher)

“All bus drivers are having to get used to the “new normal,” she said. “It’s quite different.” Some of the changes that Caruso says that bus drivers must adhere to include:

“All bus drivers are required to wear face masks and all of our monitors are required to wear face masks and face shields while students are present on the buses.

“I believe the procedures that transportation has put in place is definitely working,” she said.

For Caruso, a typical day looks like this:

“First thing in the morning after drivers do their bus pre-trips, we crack our windows for proper ventilation. 

We also have a small, rectangular shape piece of metal that is located at our front, right window and we turn it to show red. This indicates that the bus is in use.

When we stop and pick up students, each student has to wear a face  mask and use hand sanitizer. We also try to have only 1 student per seat and that they sit close to the window. But obviously we will sit 2 (or 3) kids per seat if we have to.

After every route we spray a disinfectant called Virex. We spray every seat that a child has sat in and all the high touch areas. After we get back to Transportation and park our buses, myself, 4 other Lead Drivers and 1 other driver walk around and fog every bus with another disinfectant called Quat Stat 5. 

We take that small, rectangular metal piece and flip it to show green on the outside to indicate that the bus has been completely disinfected and is ready to go.”

Caruso said that what student bus riders can do better is abide by the rules that have been put in place by Transportation. “Trust me, we don’t like wearing the masks either! It is required for us to do so not only for our safety but also for those around us! So if students can just do their part by “masking up” and using the hand sanitizer and trying to abide by all of Transportation safety rules, it will be a great year!” she said.

“I love my job! My kids grew up in this district. Now my grandkids are growing up in this district too. I know since Spring Break everything in our world has been turned upside down. I heard one person say, “we are all in the same storm, just different boats.’ Meaning we are all in this together, but our hardships may differ from one another. It’s ok. We got this! We will work through these challenging times together! We are SCUC strong.”

What other students think about the changes

Cailyn Dukes, a 7th grade in-person Dobie student, is a new SCUCISD student this year. She rides bus 152. Coming from IDEA Public Charter School, Dukes said that she was surprised at how many people were on the bus. “There were a little more people than I expected, but I feel safe,” she said. “There is hand sanitizer and we have to wear masks. We also have to sit alone in a seat — we can’t share.”

For some students, the changes can sometimes feel overwhelming. Last year you could go 2 to 3 to a seat, and this year only one person to a seat. The bus is less full than in the past. It can be hard for them to keep their masks on and sit one to a seat especially if they haven’t ridden the bus before. 

Gabriel Salanguit, a 7th grade in-person Dobie student, said he doesn’t like wearing his mask. “I don’t like wearing a mask because it’s uncomfortable and in my opinion it’s not as effective as social distancing,” he said.

But students adapt. Brooklyn Rice, an 8th grade in-person Dobie student, said that she enjoys wearing her mask. “It covers my face. It’s kind of comfortable,” she said. “I feel safe because we are one to a seat, and social distance, and we get hand sanitizer.”