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School bus operators prepare for the opening of classes

More than two years since their operations were halted, several school bus operators are looking forward to the opening of classes on August 22.

In Katrina Son’s Sunday report on “24 Oras Weekend”, school bus operator Auria Cueva Anatalio said the past two years had been difficult for them because of the pandemic.

Anatalio hoped that they could again earn money as face-to-face classes would resume next week.

“Malaking tulong po para sa aming mga operators kasi wala kaming naging income for two years, no ayuda. So, talaga po na malaking tulong ngayong nagkaroon ng face-to-face classes,” she said.

(It's a big help for us operators because we had no income for two years, no financial assistance. So, it's a big help now that there are face-to-face classes.)

She said they were preparing to meet the guidelines required by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) before resuming operations.

“Marami po kaming protocols na sinusunod regarding doon sa mga requirements ng aming schools. Nandyan ang mga alcohols,” Anatalio said.

(We have many protocols that we follow that are required by our schools. Rubbing alcohol will be available.)

“Sa social distancing po namin, pinabawasan ng LTFRB ang seating capacity. Instead of 18 students magiging 12 to 15 na lang,” she added.

(When it comes to social distancing, the LTFRB reduced the seating capacity. Instead of 18 students, it will be only 12 to 15 students.)

According to the LTFRB, the guidelines for school bus operators were:

  • vehicles must have secured windows that are steel grilled;
  • seatbelts for all passengers;
  • workable portable fire extinguisher;
  • portable “stop” and “go” signage that should be carried by the conductor when learners cross the street;
  • drivers and conductors wear the prescribed uniforms;
  • regular examination of drivers’ and conductors’ fitness by checking their body temperature and screening for any symptoms of COVID-19
  • mandatory wearing of face masks for drivers, conductors, and passengers at all times; and
  • frequent disinfection of vehicles

“Ang mahalaga, ang mga estudyante ay komportable, hindi nagdidikit-dikit, at siyempre kailangan natin ng minimum health protocols katulad ng pagsusuot ng face mask, paglalagay ng mga alcohol at thermometer units. Dapat lahat ng pasahero ng school bus ay may face mask for the protection ng ating mga estudyante,” LTFRB chairperson Atty. Cheloy Garafil said.

(The important thing is that the students are comfortable, not packed tightly together, and of course, we need minimum health protocols such as wearing a face mask and placing alcohol and thermometer units. All school bus passengers must have a face mask for the protection of our students.)

Meanwhile, the LTFRB and city bus operators held a meeting on Saturday to discuss the reopening of 100 public utility vehicle routes.

They also tackled the modification of some routes to reduce the transferring of passengers between PUVs.

“Kung meron tayo talagang enough units for the opening of classes. So ito rin yung isa sa mga purpose, aside from informing them. Gusto nating magkaroon tayo ng complete picture kung ano yung ma-e-expect natin with respect to the deployment of the units na pampubliko to respond to the face-to-face classes,” Garafil said.

(We need to find out if we have enough PUV units for the opening of classes. So, this is also one of the purposes of the meeting, aside from informing them. We want to have a complete picture of what we can expect from the deployment of public vehicles in the resumption of face-to-face classes.) — Mel Matthew Doctor/DVM, GMA News