DPW decreasing school bus capacities from 60 students to just 24

School buses (PNC file photo)

As in the past, the Department of Public Works takes charge over the transportation plan for Guam schools. With the COVID-19 pandemic, new modes of learning and new protocols for transporting students had to be implemented to prevent the spread of the virus.

For social distancing purposes, DPW Deputy Director Jesse Garcia says the department is decreasing school bus capacity from 60 students to 24.

While the rule applies to both Catholic and public schools, Garcia says Catholic schools are asking to be exempted from this rule.

Garcia talked about school busing issues and new directives with Patti Arroyo on K57 this morning. He says the exemption request is just one of the concerns that the Guam education board will be handling this week.

“As far as private schools, they wrote a letter to the director of Public Works requesting for an exemption of what we have been discussing with the Guam Department of Education for the busing of school kids. They are asking for more students riding the bus and what is being planned for,” Garcia said.

In terms of having enough buses in the field, Garcia says, right now, GDOE is looking at enrollment numbers — like how many kids are going to school for face to face instruction versus those who are actually staying at home for online classes.

They are also looking at the number of available drivers for the buses. He says around 30 drivers with underlying health conditions chose not to drive because of the pandemic.

According to Garcia, ideally, they need around 140 bus drivers. Currently, they only have close to a hundred who are available this school year.

Garcia says DPW will work out a transportation plan with the schools. Meanwhile, Catholic schools started classes this week but as of today, Garcia says they have not yet started busing students to the schools.