Are face masks required on school buses?
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an Order on January 29, 2021 requiring the wearing of masks by people on public transportation conveyances or on the premises of transportation hubs to prevent spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. This Order was effective as of 11:59 p.m. February 1, 2021 and was published in the Federal Register on February 3, 2021.
- The CDC order for mandatory use of face coverings on public transit applies to school buses until lifted by the federal government and cannot be waived by state or local authorities. The text of the federal order and the CDC guidance is available on the CDC website.
- The CDC has provided clarity through these FAQs. Please note that this federal law applies to both public and private schools.
Will students have assigned seats on the bus?
At the elementary level, students will have assigned seats to help with possible contact tracing. Older students will be responsible for remembering where and with whom they sat.
What is being done to keep my student safe on the bus?
- Protective Equipment: All drivers and students are required to wear a face covering while on the bus. Extra face coverings are available for anyone in need.
- Hand Hygiene: Hand sanitizer is available from the driver for any student who desires to clean & disinfect their hands.
- Airflow & Circulation: A minimum of 4 windows per side will be kept open to ensure ample airflow in the bus. Roof hatches may also be opened dependent upon weather conditions.
- Environmental Cleaning & Disinfection: High-touch areas on buses which include hand rails, dash boards, door handles and seats & seat backs are disinfected each day between the AM and PM routes with EPA-approved products. Buses which have transported students with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 are deep cleaned and disinfected prior returning to service.
What about physical distancing on the bus?
Spacing on buses will be dependent on how many students are present during a given ride. There will be no mandatory 3-foot or 6-foot distancing requirement.
The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) recognize that many Oregonians are asking why there are differences between buses and school facilities with respect to distancing. There are important public health distinctions in these environments, and these distinctions require diverse solutions:
- Time spent: While students ride the bus for different amounts of time, generally, these trips are shorter than time spent inside school buildings, making bus rides safer.
- High seat backs act as barrier. Like plexiglass or other dividers, seat backs offer some protection from droplet transmissions.
- Frequent door opening/closing and open windows help fresh air circulate in the buses, which lowers the risk of infection.
Will students need to quarantine if a positive or presumptive case of COVID-19 is reported on the bus?
The current exemption rule of 3 feet and mask-wearing does not apply to busing. If there's a positive or presumptive positive case on the bus, all students who are within 6 feet and unvaccinated will have to quarantine. If close contacts cannot be determined, the entire bus cohort may be required to quarantine for the safety of all students.
Students who are vaccinated and are not showing COVID-19 symptoms will not have to quarantine.
Further information related to COVID protections and procedures can be found on the Communications & Community Involvement webpage under Back to School Information