New Research Examines COVID-19 Spread on School Buses

Children on School Bus

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Although in-school transmission of COVID-19 amongst K-12 trainees is low when safeguards remain in location, the threat of getting COVID-19 throughout school bus transport is uncertain. A research study released in the Journal of School Health reports on the bus transportation experience of an independent school in Virginia.

For the research study, the school kept an eye on 1,154 trainees with asymptomatic PCR screening every 2 weeks at first and later on weekly from August 28, 2020-March 19, 2021, throughout greatest neighborhood transmission. Fifteen buses served 462 trainees while running at near capability of 2 trainees in every seat, utilizing a physical distancing minimum of 2.5 feet, universal masking, and basic ventilation strategies.

There were 39 contagious COVID-19 cases who existed on buses throughout the research study duration, which led to the quarantine of 52 trainees. Universal screening and contact tracing exposed no transmission connected to bus transport.

“The pandemic has made it very difficult for public schools to meet the transportation needs of students. Many districts simply do not have enough buses and drivers to allow distancing of 3-6 feet or skipping of bus rows while still providing rides to all children,” stated matching author Dana Ramirez, MD, of Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.

“With more students returning to face-to-face instruction, safe transportation to school is an equity issue, as many families are unable to drive their children to school each day. As members of the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics School Re-Opening Task Force, we recognize that schools are under pressure to make data-driven operational decisions. We hope the model we describe and our data can be of assistance in demonstrating that school buses can safely operate at normal capacity even at high community COVID-19 case loads.”

Reference: “COVID-19 Transmission during Transportation of 1st to 12th Grade Students: Experience of an Independent School in Virginia” by Dana W.E. Ramirez MD, Martin D. Klinkhammer MD, Miles Per Hour and Leah C. Rowland MD, 21 July 2021, Journal of School Health.
DOI: 10.1111/josh.13058

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