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NHTSA Letter on Plexiglass Barriers
Many of you have expressed an interest in installing barriers on your buses to protect the driver and/or students from novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) transmission. To date, New York DOT has not approved a design solution although they have reviewed prototypes that school districts have developed for DOT consideration. This is a more complicated approval process as not only does NYSDOT need to approve barrier installation and design, but solutions also must comply with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) FMVSS standards for school buses.
We received a letter August 12th from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding the installation of barriers (sneeze guards) on school buses. The letter is in response to a letter from the Illinois Department of Transportation to NHTSA requesting information and guidance on the issue.
In summary, the NHTSA letter states that manufacturers and after-market equipment providers can install barriers on buses and in doing so, must conform to several FMVSS standards for safety. Those include standards for product glazing, flammability, emergency exits, visibility and crashworthiness.
The New York DOT has indicated they will be reviewing this information and issuing guidance soon. NYAPT will keep you updated as we hear more on this matter.
The NHTSA letter can be read by clicking on the link below.
Screening K-12 Students for Symptoms of COVID-19: Limitations and Considerations
The link below provides updated information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for your information and use issued 7/23/20.
CDC does not currently recommend universal symptom screenings (screening all students grades K-12) be conducted by schools.
Parents or caregivers should be strongly encouraged to monitor their children for signs of infectious illness every day.
Students who are sick should not attend school in-person.
School Reopening Update as of July 20, 2020
Discussions are underway in earnest across the state regarding the recent school reopening guidance entitled, “ Recovering, Rebuilding, and Renewing the Spirit of New York’s Schools: Reopening Guidance.” Of particular interest to the school transportation industry in New York is the guidance on school transportation, specifically the statement below found on page 60 of the document:
“Students who are able will be required to wear masks and social distance on the bus;”
We have asked for further clarification regarding this statement as it does not align with the Department of Health (DOH) guidance issued on July 13, 2020. The DOH guidance is found below:
“Transportation: Consistent with State-issued public transit guidance, Responsible Parties must develop protocols and procedures, which include that individuals must wear acceptable face coverings at all times on school buses (e.g., entering, exiting, and seated), and that individuals should maintain appropriate social distancing, unless they are members of the same household. Responsible Parties should encourage parents/legal guardians to drop off or walk students to school to reduce density on buses.”
Given the ambiguity in the two statements, we asked SED and the Governor’s office last Friday to clarify. We were advised that a clarification will come out via a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) in the near future. Today the FAQ was published on the SED website and of this writing states the following:
“Social Distancing and Mask Requirements on Bus
Q. Are students required to wear masks and social distance on a school bus?
A. All students are required to wear a mask and should maintain appropriate social distancing. The only exception to the mask requirement is that students whose physical or mental health would be impaired by wearing a mask are not required to do so but must maintain social distancing of 6 feet from other individuals on the bus. (See page 62 of NYSED Reopening Guidance).”
We are told that further clarification may be coming out soon. We believe that the final guidance on this issue will allow for larger capacities on the bus that a true 6 foot social distancing guideline would permit, but reduced from what we normally load, in recognition that 6-foot social distancing on a bus is not practicable.
We will keep you informed when and if this guidance is clarified further.
Provided below is the Department of Health guidance issued in July 13, 2020 and the SED guidance document issued on July 16, 2020 in case you have not already seen this information. Also included is the SED FAQ published today.
Regarding another issue important to the bus industry, we reached out today to ask New York State DOT what their position is today on sneeze guards. At this time, DOT is discussing options for sneeze guards on buses but no designs or pilot projects have been approved to date.
Recovering, Rebuilding, and Renewing: The Spirit of New York’s Schools - Reopening Guidance
Click on the link below to find the latest guidance from SED on school reopening. This document was released from SED July 16, 2020.
We are providing the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health "Risk Reduction Strategies for Reopening Schools" for your information and use. (Added 7/2/2020)
We are providing the State of Connecticut's plan for school re-opening for your information and use. (Added 6/26/2020)
NYAPT Task Force on Resuming Transportation Services (Added 6/24/2020)
A few weeks ago, NYAPT convened a work group of school transportation professionals to begin the process of collecting information and suggesting action steps to be considered in resuming transportation services. The work group collected information, talked with colleagues, listened to webinars, and read government produced information. That information was shared via numerous virtual meetings and is captured in the attached document. Click on the link below to access the document.
This was a long process to say the least. Given the many diverse opinions and lack of official guidance on the COVID pandemic and its effect on student transportation services, ferreting out reliable information was not easy. The work group is to be commended for their work.
The report attempts to list the many issues involved in the reopening process from a school transportation perspective. We are sure there is other information that is not listed or even thought of as we learn more about the COVID pandemic and its effect on our industry. As each day passes, new information emerges that we will consider in our reopening plans. In addition, as you have heard often, our state is very diverse and what works in one part of the state may not work in another.
Also listed in the report are some action steps provided for your consideration. Again, these action steps are suggestions that may or may not be useful to you, depending on your local or regional situation. The thought is that these actions steps will give you some guidance as we wait for direction from government agencies.
This information is not meant to imply a mandate on your operation or an industry standard. It is a collection of thoughts and ideas from industry members provided to complement your thinking about the reopening process. We are sure there are some elements of the reopening process listed within that you have not considered. We have found this to be true each time we reviewed a draft of this document.
Soon, the New York State Board of Regents will release guidance on reopening that will hopefully include information on resuming school transportation services. NYAPT has provided the regents with information on two separate occasions at the regents regional discussion sessions. When that guidance is available, we will be sure to pass it along to you.
We hope you find this information useful!
FMCSA Launches New TPR Web Page
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched a new web page to share updates and information about the Training Provider Registry (TPR) and the Entry-Level Driver Training Program. The new TPR web page can be found at: https://tpr.fmcsa.dot.gov. FMCSA states that it will continue to enhance this page with additional information and features as the February 7, 2022, compliance date approaches. Stakeholders who visit the website can subscribe now to receive email updates when these updates become available.
How will the Training Provider Registry work?
On February 7, 2022, when the Registry is fully operational, this website will:
Provide CDL applicants with the official list of providers from which they can receive entry-level driver training.
Allow training providers to register to be added to this list and maintain their listing (training provider registration is scheduled to be available in Summer 2021).
Receive information from registered training providers certifying a driver’s successful completion of entry-level driver training.
Retain this driver training information and relay it to State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs).
How will States be required to use the Training Provider Registry?
Beginning on February 7, 2022, States will use information from the Training Provider Registry to ensure that the necessary entry-level driver training has been completed prior to administering relevant tests. This includes the skills test for applicants looking to obtain a Class A or Class B CDL for the first time, upgrade an existing Class B to a Class A CDL, or obtain a school bus (S) or passenger (P) endorsement for the first time; and the knowledge test for applicants looking to obtain a hazardous materials (H) endorsement for the first time
FMCSA 3-Month Waiver for Pre-Employment Testing Requirements
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a three-month waiver for pre-employment testing requirements applicable to employers of drivers subject to 49 CFR Part 382. This waiver is effective June 5, 2020 and ends on September 39, 2020. This waiver provides relief from pre-
employment drug testing for those drivers who have been out of the random pool for over thirty days due to layoffs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Click on the link below to read the full text of the waiver.
Message from State Director of Pupil Transportation - Pupil Transportation Testing and Training Update
The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has been engaged in addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on pupil transportation. To that end, NYSED made several initial modifications to our regulations with the intent of returning to full compliance with the permanent regulations once in person instruction is restored for students. For now, the Pupil Transportation Unit has modified the requirements for the end of the 2019-2020 school year and the 2020-2021 summer school session. The following changes will be instituted:
Refresher Training: If the district/company did not complete the second refresher training session due to the COVID 19 shutdown there are two options:
The Pupil Transportation Safety Institute will be providing the three refresher topics through telecommunication. Employees can sign on to their website to complete the training they need.
If the district/contractor operation is in a region that successfully reached the appropriate phase of reopening, a refresher can be presented in person. The group size is limited to 10 people, including the instructor, and all CDC guidelines must be followed.
Bus Safety Drill: The third required bus drill for 2019-2020 will be waived since schools were closed in March 2020. Only two school bus safety drills will be required to be in the file for the 2019-2020 school year.
Physical Performance Test: The Physical Performance Tests (PPT) for drivers, monitors and attendants, which were postponed until school was back in session, will be postponed until the regions are in the proper phase of reopening and carriers/districts are able to conduct the test following the CDC guidelines.
· If the Physical Performance Tests are given after their due date, please mark on the form “PPT was delayed due to the COVID 19 pandemic.”
· Districts and contractors will be expected to have drivers, monitors and attendants back in compliance within 60 days following the first day of school in September 2020 or when schools begin in-person education.
· In relation to the question of drivers, monitors and attendants being required to retake a physical performance test because they were out of work for more than sixty days, the Department’s new regulations state a PPT “shall be administered for a driver, monitor and attendant who is unavailable for service for sixty or more days from his or her scheduled work duties.” If the employee has been available to work but has not had work to perform for more than 60 days, an additional PPT is not needed.
Basic and Advanced Course Training: The Basic and Advanced Course for drivers and the Basic Course for monitors and attendants will be permitted once the region has reached the appropriate phase of reopening and must follow all the CDC guidelines.
Director of Pupil Transportation
New York State Education Department__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
NYS Board of Regents Reopening Task Force Meetings
The New York Board of Regents is holding virtual Regional School Reopening Task Force meetings across the state. The meetings are held to gather input to develop a framework to reopen schools. Transportation is one of the nine focus areas where information will be gathered and included in the final product. NYAPT will be represented at those meetings by Executive Director David Christopher and Legislative Chair Bill Harvey, who have been invited to participate. We look forward to representing the industry in this important initiative.
Click on the link below to read more on the task force and its mission.
NYS Department of Health interim guidance for summer school education:
CENTER FOR EDUCATION SAFETY - Pandemic Recovery Considerations Re-Entry and Reopening of Schools
We are providing the "Missouri Plan" for school re-opening for your information and use. It is an interesting read on school re-opening processes and may offer you some ideas on school re-opening that might be of use to you. The plan has several pages specifically on transportation re-opening planning.
Very soon, NYAPT will be releasing a document produced as a result of the work of the NYAPT school transportation re-opening work group. This document will be available to all members.
Bus Drivers Designated “Essential Workers”
We have received notice that on May 19th, bus drivers have been designated essential workers by the US Department of Homeland Security - Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency. Refer to the document and related link below for more information and what this designation may mean to your operation.
The Department of Motor Vehicles has issued reopening guidance found on the DMV website advising of the Department's reopening status. See the link below for more information:
May 31, 2020_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The Capital Region BOCES recently published a useful guidance document on school reopening following the COVID-19 closures. The document focuses on all elements of the school opening process and has some useful guidance on transportation services specifically. Click on the link below to access the document.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when schools re-open. The guidance gives information on general school opening processes as well as to school transportation providers on how to keep children safe on school buses.
The link to review the full report is as follows:
We draw specific attention to information on “What Bus Transit Operators Need to Know About COVID-19”. This information is useful to school transportation operators and can be found at:
(Email Sent to Membership 5/4/2020)
On Friday, May 1, 2020, Governor Cuomo announced the closing of all schools and college facilities in New York for the remainder of the academic year. A decision on whether or not summer school will be opened will be decided at the end of May.
By Executive Order # 202.26, the Governor also set June 9, 2020, as the uniform school budget vote day across New York State.
Board member elections will also take place on June 9 by absentee ballot. Absentee ballots will be mailed to all eligible voters within the school district in a postage paid return envelope. There will be no in person voting as we have done in the past.
Schools and colleges must create reopening plans that re-image school facilities in response to the COVID-19 realities. The plans must consider how to contain the spread of the disease in our schools (and school buses), how to provide for student safety, when and how to resume extracurricular activities, among other concerns. Plans must be submitted to the State for approval.
NYAPT will assist in reopening efforts by forming a work group to continue the process of collecting best practices and identifying concerns and challenges relative to transporting students in the COVID -19 environment. Information collected by the work group will be provided to all members and partners via email, website, webinars and other means of communications. NYAPT has also reached out to Regent Rosa, who is forming the Regents Task Force on School Reopening requesting school transportation representation be included on the task force.
We have a lot to do as an industry to resume transportation services. We are confident, however, we will get through this challenge and come out the other side better than when we went in. Let's get ready for opening day!
Message from DMV-Bus Driver Unit
Regarding the Affidavit of Compliance
Affidavits of Compliance (AFCOs) went out on April 18, 2020. Because the AFCO statistics apply to the previous year, the pandemic period doesn’t apply to this year’s submission, per Tracey Wheaton at BDU.
From the New York Department of Health regarding bus cleaning and disinfecting: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/03/cleaning_guidance_public_transportation.pdf
US Department of Health and Human Services https://www.hhs.gov/
The Centers for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/
New York Department of Health https://www.health.ny.gov/
US Department of Education https://www.ed.gov/coronavirus?src=feature&utm_source=ECS%2BSubscribers&utm_campaign=dae2840c29-ArtsEd_Digest_4.1.2020&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1a2b00b930-dae2840c29-53618623
John Hopkins COVID-19 Map https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html
Preliminary Guidance on the Preparation of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak in New York State
Guidance on Statewide School Closures http://www.p12.nysed.gov/sss/schoolhealth/schoolhealthservices/coronavirus/nysed-covid-19-third-guidance-3-17-20.pdf
SED Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance http://www.p12.nysed.gov/sss/schoolhealth/schoolhealthservices/coronavirus.html
From the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT): https://www.napt.org/blog_home.asp?display=34
From FMCSA (USDOT) - Waiver in Response to the COVID-19 Emergency: FMCSA CDL Waiver-3.24.20.pdf
New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (19-A information) https://dmv.ny.gov/motor-carriers/information-and-forms-article-19
New York State Education Department http://www.nysed.gov/
FMCSA Expanded Emergency Declaration https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency/expanded-emergency-declaration-under-49-cfr-ss-39023-no-2020-002-relating-covid-19
Governor Cuomo's Executive Orders:
Department of Motor Vehicles Closure Announcement: https://dmv.ny.gov/press-release/press-release-03-21-20
School Bus Fleet - PA passes a law to require school districts to pay contractors during Pandemic closures: https://www.schoolbusfleet.com/news/738006/new-pa-law-permits-school-bus-contractor-payment-agreements-during-covid-19-crisis
Disruption to Drug and Alcohol Testing Due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/drug-alcohol-testing/disruptions-drug-and-alcohol-testing-due-coronavirus-disease-2019
What Bus Transit Operators Need to Know About COVID-19 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/bus-transit-operator.html
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation - Products Registered in NY for Use Against COVID-19
Cleaning and Disinfecting Buses - Resources
IK2200091 - Cleaning an IC Bus.pdf- IC Bus Cleaning Guidance
http://www.newyorkbussales.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/20-0326REV-A-SERVICE-UPDATE-Proper-Disinfecting-of-School-Buses.pdf - Bluebird Bus Cleaning Guidance
https://thomasbuiltbuses.com/content/uploads/2020/03/COVID19-Cleaning-Instructions.pdf - Thomas Bus Cleaning Guidance
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