TAMPA BAY, Fla. — As school starts back up again, getting on the school bus is part of the daily routine for thousands of kids across the Tampa Bay area. But the thought of no masks while riding has some parents worried.
“You’re in a confined space. You can’t social distance on a bus and for those that aren’t wearing masks it’s a chance you’re taking,” said Ann Marie Deyo, who lives in Palm Harbor. “It’s really a chance you don’t want to take.”
Last year, districts across the board required students and drivers to wear masks but this year that isn’t the case for the most part.
Hillsborough will require masks on buses, but are allowing parents to fill out some paperwork and opt out.
Pinellas and Pasco said they’re optional although highly encouraged.
Manatee and Polk county haven’t responded back yet.
“With the buses just kids not wearing masks. You know how kids are. They are able to transmit and carry diseases just like anybody else,” said Jay Deyo. “Being in that close of quarters you can pass it from kids to drivers to teachers.”
The Deyo’s and their three kids held up signs Monday in support of masks in schools ahead of a meeting in Pinellas County. They also think masks should be worn on buses.
“I think because it’s a closed confined space even if you’re social distanced it’s like a COVID heaven,” said Sarah Deyo.
“They are finding kids can carry the coronavirus and give it to people who aren’t vaccinated and right now the hospital I’m working at, a lot of our patients are unvaccinated. Actually all of them,” said Jay Deyo.
Both Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties said hand sanitizer will be available on each bus and students are encouraged to use it as they get on and off the bus. Drivers will also clean and disinfect surfaces between runs and masks will be available to those who want them. They’ll also board the bus from the front, and exit through the back to encourage social distancing.
In Hillsborough, students will be distanced and given assigned seating which bus drivers will create and maintain school administration will audit the charts for accuracy.
In Pinellas, drivers will open windows to help with airflow and ventilation.