Polk County Public Schools’ transportation call center is up and running for the 2020-21 school year.
Parents who have transportation-related questions and concerns may call 863-534-7300 from now until Friday, Sept. 4. The temporary call center will be staffed on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
(Please note: From 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. each day, there will be a shift change and the call center will be sanitized. Calls will be answered but hold times could be longer than usual.)
“Communication is always critical, but even more so during this very unusual school year,” said Assistant Superintendent for Support Services Rob Davis. “We want parents to know that we are here for them and their children. All they have to do is call.”
Transportation staff members will be able to provide help with all manner of transportation questions, including student bus numbers, stop times and locations, transportation eligibility, and bus delays.
Looking ahead to the new school year, Davis said parents should be prepared for longer-than-normal delays. To help prevent the spread of coronavirus, bus drivers will be disinfecting their buses between each run.
“This will take time, but it is necessary to help safeguard our students and staff,” Davis said. “We typically experience delays at the start of the school year, and this year, those delays will be longer than normal because of our new cleaning protocols.”
Any delays longer than 20 minutes are posted to polkschoolsfl.com/busdelays. Parents may also call 863-534-7300 throughout the school year to reach a dispatcher.
Davis said parents may also expect a longer-than-normal wait for their child’s bus route information.
Students who enrolled in the district or chose Campus Learning after the return-to-intent form was due on July 27 may have to wait up to 10 calendar days to receive bus route information. For students who met the July 27 deadline, bus route information will be available prior to the start of school, either in Parent Portal or at their school’s orientation.
“Because of the virus, we are reducing the capacity on our buses,” Davis explained. “To do this, we are constantly assessing the routes and making adjustments when necessary to limit the number of students. We know this may be frustrating to our parents. We ask for their patience, and that they understand we’re doing everything we can within transportation to protect their children.”
In addition to limiting capacity, transportation safety protocols include:
- Bus drivers and attendants must take their temperatures daily. Anyone with a fever or any symptoms of COVID-19 must not report to work.
- Parents and students should self-monitor their symptoms. Anyone with symptoms should not go to the bus stop.
- Bus drivers, attendants and students will all be required to wear face coverings while on the bus.
- When feasible, buses will travel with several windows and roof hatches open to allow fresh air to circulate.
- Hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed on buses. Students will use hand sanitizer as they board and exit the bus.
- To minimize exposure, students will be boarded from rear to front, and unloaded from front to rear.
- Again, to minimize exposure, students will be assigned seats on the bus, when feasible.
“It’s an unusual year to be sure,” Davis said, “but we remain as committed as ever to providing safe, reliable transportation, even amid a worldwide pandemic.”
For more information about PCPS’ reopening safety procedures, visit polkschoolsfl.com/reopening.