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Cohorts, assigned seating to be in place for school bus users

Grande Prairie Public School Division students who take school buses will be required to have their bus passes in hand on the first day of school. It’s part of efforts to tighten up procedures ahead of school reopenings.

Public School Division Superintendent Sandy McDonald says it will be mandatory for all students to scan their bus pass to board the bus and exit the bus from the first day forward.

“It’s not all that different from some of our normal operations; it’s really [only] the potential application of it,” he says. “We’ve always wanted to know who was on the bus, in case there is an accident and we have to contact the parents… we just might be using that data a little differently this year.”

The difference is, the school divisions will be required to assist Alberta Health Services to conduct contract tracing for riders in the event of a confirmed COVID-19 exposure. McDonald says the card scanning aspect of bus service will go hand in hand with a new protocol, which will include assigned seating for all bus users. He adds the province suggested assigned seating in an effort to keep cohorts together and minimize some exposure risk.

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“In the past, we would distribute the passes at school and we were loose about who could ride buses, so if you didn’t have a pass the first few days, absolutely get on the bus we will get you to school,” he says. “We are tightening that bit up because that scanning and the assigned seating allows us to a little better able track who is on the bus if we need to.”

Masks will also be required for all staff and students who ride the bus. The first day of school is set for September 1st.

Editors note: A previous version of this article stated the first day of school was September 8th. We apologize for the error.

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