The Northwestern Ontario Student Services Consortium works closely with Member School Boards, the Northwestern Health Unit, our Bus Operator partners, and the Ministry of Education to provide a safe school bus environment for students.

This page outlines current practices that are in place to ensure that students arrive at school safely, on time, and ready to learn during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ontario government has announced changes to health and safety measures for the remainder of the 2021-2022 school year including the following:

  • Masks are no longer required for any students on school buses. Students and staff may choose to continue to wear masks in schools and on buses.
  • Assigned seating and cohorting on school buses are no longer mandatory, however bus drivers may choose to continue using seating plans to encourage safe riding behaviour.
  • Students and staff should continue to self-screen every day using the COVID-19 school and child care screening tool and follow the direction the screen provides.
  • NWOSSC encourages drivers and students to continue using strategies to protect themselves from COVID-19 such as masking, good hand and respiratory hygiene, etc. Enhanced cleaning of all school vehicles twice daily will continue.

Updated March 15, 2022

Effective March 21, 2022 assigned seating and cohorting on school buses are no longer mandatory, however bus drivers may choose to continue using seating plans to encourage safe riding behaviour.

Regular capacity for school bus seating is up to three students per seat for Kindergarten to Grade 6, and two students per seat for Grades 7-12.

Parents/Guardians must assess their child’s health daily before sending them on the bus or dropping them off at school.  Please use the link below to access Ontario’s COVID-19 school and child care screening.

Parents may be required to pick up their child at the school  upon identification of symptoms of COVID-19 and must have a plan in place to do so.

Effective March 21, 2022 masks are no longer required for any students on school buses. Students and staff may choose to continue to wear masks in schools and on buses.

Respiratory and hand hygiene are critical strategies that limit the transmission of viruses. Students are encouraged to wash their hands thoroughly and/or use hand sanitizer prior to going to the bus stop.

Effective March 21, 2022 masks are no longer required for any students on school buses. Students and staff may choose to continue to wear masks in schools and on buses.

Students should load an unload the bus in an orderly fashion, following the drivers instructions.

Do not crowd the front door while loading and unloading. Only one student should be on the stairs at a time, and hand rails should be used at all times.

After boarding the bus, students should get to their seats and sit down with their bags on their lap as quickly as possible

All school buses will be cleaned and disinfected at least twice daily, as recommended by Ministry of Education Guide to Reopening Ontario’s Schools, to provide a transportation environment that is as clean and safe as possible for students and bus drivers.

Cleaning and disinfection of all high-touch surfaces will take place after the morning bus route is completed, and again at the end of the day using a virucidal/bactericidal cleaning spray that is alcohol and bleach free, and safe for use around students.

Bus windows will be opened whenever possible to increase air circulation inside the bus (weather permitting). Students should dress according to the outdoor conditions to ensure a comfortable bus ride. Parents should remind children that it is unsafe to place a hand or any body part out of the window, and that throwing any items out an open window may result in loss of transportation privileges.

Bus drivers will be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) including non-fit tested N95 masks, gloves, and eye protection. PPE is not mandatory, but may be used as long as doing so does not impact visibility (e.g. during loading/unloading in school zones or while assisting a student).

All bus drivers will be required to self-screen daily prior to coming to work and will follow all required public health protocols prior to their return. The Ontario government provides rapid tests for use should staff or students become symptomatic/develop symptoms of illness.

If drivers become ill, or are otherwise required to self isolate, the bus route may be covered by a spare driver or may be cancelled due to driver shortage.

Active forms of travel to and from school (for example, walking and cycling) are encouraged where possible. Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle including using active forms of transportation whenever possible also has health benefits for students and supports successful learning.

Safety remains an important consideration when using active transportation, and it is done at the parent/guardian’s discretion. For more information and resources on how to plan a safe and active trip to school we suggest starting with the following links:

http://www.activesaferoutes.ca/assets/Uploads/pdfs/11-Steps-you-can-take-to-increase-your.pdf

If your child is a bus student but you do not intend to use school bus service regularly, we ask that you notify us and opt-out of transportation.

Active forms of travel (for example, walking and cycling) and private transportation by parents and caregivers, are encouraged where possible to ease pressure on transportation demand. Please read below for more information about active school travel.

If you opt out you may register your child for bussing at a later date, however, please note that it may take longer than normal to process new registrations due to enhanced safety protocols.