School bus group says buses will be cleaned twice a day during pandemic
TORONTO -- The group in charge of school busses for the province of Ontario is trying to assure parents that buses will be deep cleaned before school starts and cleaned twice a day after that.
Nancy Daigneault, the Executive Director of School Bus Ontario, said in past years buses would normally be cleaned once a week, but now they will be cleaned twice a day.
“After the morning run the buses will be cleaned and sanitized by the drivers with the solution provided to us by the ministry and at the end of the day as well they will be cleaned and sanitized again,” Daigneault said.
Social distancing on a crowded school bus will be difficult to do. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath raised concerns that all children should have to wear a mask and sit alone.
In a recent demonstration on board a school bus she used cardboard cut-outs of children to prove her point.
“No masks and kids are crowded for less safety. Then on this side of the bus where kids wear a mask and it's one per seat," Horwath said.
School Bus Ontario says it is also recommending that students wear a mask at all times on the bus and sit one per seat if possible.
Ontario's Education Minister Stephen Lecce has been trying to assure parents that buses will be safe transporting children to school.
“We have put the money in place $40 million for just one year. A one-time investment for the coming year to make sure buses are constantly cleaned and the points of contact are constantly cleaned,” Lecce said.
The Sparta Group of Toronto has created a disinfectant that can kill COVID-19 as well as other viruses.
John O’Bireck says the product has been used in the trucking industry as a disinfectant and is now being tried with robots and drones to apply the product in buses and other areas.
O’Bireck says robots can spray the disinfectant product uniformly and quickly on bus seats as it travels up and down bus aisles.
“The rover runs up and down the bus in a minute and a half. It’s a robot and it’s job is to make sure that the product is applied consistently.”
School Bus Ontario said that at this time it must follow ministry guidelines when it comes to cleaning.
“There is a new sprayer and disinfectant that has been issued to us because of COVID-19. This is a brand new disinfectant the ministry has issued to us to insure the buses are cleaned and sanitized,” Daigneault said.
School Bus Ontario says drivers will also be wearing masks and gloves and taking extra precautions. Many school bus drivers are semi-retired and over the age of 60 and they also have concerns about the virus.