SANFORD, Fla. — The Seminole County School District is preparing its fleet of buses for the upcoming school year. They are planning for some changes to their pandemic protocols.    

What You Need To Know

  • Masks will be optional on Seminole County School buses this year

  • There will no longer be social distancing on buses

  • The school district will continue its bus cleaning protocols, which includes sanitizing several times a day 

For nearly two decades, Al Harris has sat behind the wheel, driving a Seminole County School bus. But nothing could have prepared him for what last year brought. 

“It’s been a challenge with the COVID situation,” said Harris. 

With the first day of school just over a week away, Harris is hopeful this year will be better than last. He says they’re working to ensure the health and safety of all bus riders. 

“We have taken every single precaution that we could to ensure that students safe,” said Harris. 

They will no longer practice social distancing, so there will be two students to a seat, at times three. 

However, the school district will continue its bus cleaning protocols, which includes sanitizing several times a day.  

Stan McKinzie is the assistant director for Seminole County Public Schools Transportation Services. 

“After the a.m. run, the p.m. run, the drivers do a deep cleaning to make sure that they sanitize their buses,” said McKinzie. 

The big change this year is students are no longer required to wear a mask while on the bus.  

“Masks are optional, but we will have masks on the bus if students need a mask,” said McKinzie. 

On Tuesday, in a split decision, the Seminole County School board voted to keep masks optional for the coming school year.  

However, school leaders tell me they are closely monitoring the delta variant and will consider mask requirements again if it would help keep students healthy.  

For Harris, it’s another school year, and like the last 18 of them, he’ll do his part to make sure students get to school safely. 

“Being very safe of each student that we transport as if they’re our very own,” said Harris. 

The Seminole County School District is short on bus drivers this year. They’re encouraging anyone interested in being a driver to apply through the school district's website.