RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- August 23 marks the first day of school for hundreds of thousands of students in Wake County. This year's return to class places COVID-19 protocols top of mind, especially when it comes to riding the school bus.
In less than a week, students in Wake County may will be waiting at a bus stop or riding the big yellow transport home.
While there are some hand gestures students need to be aware of, like Stop, Wait, and Go
Operations manager Brandon Johnson explained there are also rules once you get on the bus
"One of the most important things to know is masks need to be (worn) on the school bus and at the bus stop," he said.
Just as masks are mandated inside school you must also wear them to and from school.
In addition, many bus pickup times may change.
"We're little bit short staffed at the moment," Johnson explained.
They have more than 800 driver positions in the county and at the moment, 138 of those positions are open.
They are currently planning 627 routes, more than half of which are "shared runs," where the same bus transports two different groups of students to school in the morning at different times and/or collects two different groups of students from school in the afternoon at different times.
Parents can check their routes here.
This is significantly more shared runs than in past years.
Operation Manager Brandon Johnson says he is confident that all students will get to their destination.
"There is probably going to be some delays with buses but parents and students just need to be patient we will get them home and to school to the best of our ability," he explained.
Between a bus driver shortage and the mask mandate he is asking that students comply with the rules and a seating chart on buses for contact tracing.
He says parent involvement will help greatly.
"The only way you can enforce it is to basically tell the children the rules. the drivers definite first focus is safety but kids definitely to I think it'd be better if parents Reiterated to students about the importance of putting the mask on," said Johnson.
Johnson said they thoroughly clean the buses after each route but there could be up to 70 kids on a bus at a time so it is very important for students to wear their masks.
If you are interested in applying for one of the open positions click here ( wcpss.net/busjobs)
Wake County shares new rules for bus safety ahead of 2021-2022 school year
More TOP STORIES News