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As more schools across the nation announce closures as a precaution of or in response to confirmed cases of COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus, some student transportation departments are taking extraordinary measures to disinfect their school buses.
According to Education Week, about 113 schools or districts across the country had closed at this report due to the coronavirus outbreak, and 56 of those schools had already reopened. A majority of closures are located in or near New York City, Washington state and California.
With more than 118,100 confirmed cases worldwide at this writing, and news reports indicating the virus is spreading fast, many communities can’t be blamed for getting caught up in the resulting hysteria, especially when it comes to transporting the nation’s most precious cargo. Still, coronavirus has infected a fraction of the people worldwide that have contracted the seasonal flu, which killed about 35,000 people in the U.S. alone during the 2018-2019 season.
A number of districts are taking proactive measures to disinfect buses and classrooms due to the coronavirus outbreak. Every school bus driver and teacher are provided with Clorox wipes that can be used as needed.
Cody Cox, the director of transportation and maintenance of Community ISD, located in Texas, advised that districts need to read fact sheets on how to kill viruses. The information lists what viruses the product kills and in what amount of time. Cox said the disinfecting wipes the district uses are hydrogen peroxide-based. They are rated to kill the flu virus, the coronavirus, the common cold, and bronchitis, within four minutes of first contact.
The wipes, he said, are used throughout the day rather than waiting till after-hours to kill the germs. If a bus driver notices that a student is showing symptoms, they can try to quarantine the child and wipe down the seating area.
“Not only are we trying to get rid of the coronavirus, but we are trying to make sure our students don’t come down with the flu and other things that are also immune system depressants at the same time,” Cox explained.