CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- With just 6 days until the first day of school, Charleston County School District leaders are working diligently on last-minute preparations.

School buses have been a major topic of discussion; specifically how many students will be allowed and expected to ride the bus this year.

Transportation officials aren’t expecting more than 12% – 13%, approximately 5,000 students, to ride on the first day of school.

James Lynch, Interim Executive Director of Transportation for CCSD, wants to make sure parents are aware that the district will be following state-recommended COVID-19 protocols for school buses

“Safety is a priority right now. We know parents are a little anxious about putting their kids on a bus, but I think we’re definitely prepared to provide a safe environment,”

These guidelines include:

  • Cleaning buses twice a day
  • Limiting occupancy to 50%
  • Increasing the number of buses in use
  • Decreasing the number of students sitting two to a seat

Lynch says that assigned seats will be given within the first 3 weeks of classes. Students and staff will also be required to wear a mask while on the bus. According to the district, masks will be supplied if a student does not have one.

If a bus rider were to test positive for COVID-19, the same protocols as the classroom will be followed.

Gary Reese Sr., a representative from First Student Bus Company, says one of their biggest challenges has been a district-wide bus driver shortage.

Over the last few months, the team has aggressively recruited and retained their staff members. Reese says raising the hourly pay to $19 and awarding sign-on bonuses have helped immensely.

“Every bus route will be covered with a driver. We’re looking forward to September 8th. It’s a new day in Charleston County,” says Reese.

CCSD officials say they are working on a new GPS software for parents; they expect to roll out during the 2nd month of school. To see this school year’s bus schedules, click here.