Sun 30-08-2020 20:00 PM
ABU DHABI, 30th August, 2020 (WAM) -- The Integrated Transport Centre, ITC, of the Department of Municipalities and Transport, DMT, in Abu Dhabi announced the safety and precautionary measures that must be followed during these challenging times for the safety of the school transport sector and its users including operators, drivers, supervisors and students.
The School Transport Team at ITC prepared the safety procedures in coordination with the concerned stakeholders in aim of ensuring the complete prevention from the spread of contagious diseases and stop the spread of coronavirus, COVID-19.
That is in addition to increase the level of awareness among operators and all concerned entities about the preventive measures that should be followed to stop the spread of contagious diseases. The safety procedures also aim to ensure the compliance of school transport operators with the safety measurements identified by ITC especially including the sterilising of buses and preparing them before the start of the new academic year.
The drivers and supervisors’ responsibilities include that they must obtain a negative COVID-19 test certificate that is no longer than 14 days. They should also do regular health checks, wear face masks and gloves. In case they feel sick, they should immediately inform their manager and visit the nearest hospital. Drivers and supervisors should ensure the implementing of physical distances among students and distribute them at least 6 feet apart from each other.
They should also place signs on seats that should be vacant. Additionally, drivers and supervisors should check student’s temperature before boarding the bus and open the bus windows for ventilation after each trip, never distribute food or water and sterilise frequently touched surfaces regularly. All drivers and supervisors should be trained and qualified to deal with students who develop disease symptoms and educate the students about the risks of COVID-19.
According to the safety procedures, operators should equip the bus with full preventive equipment like thermometer and personal protective equipment like hand sanitiser, face masks and gloves. Additionally, operators are required to organise more training and awareness programs for all employees working in school transport, check the drivers and supervisors’ temperature every day before the start of their work shift, equip the buses with plastic isolators between the driver and the students, use buses at half of their capacity and placing signs on the seats that are allowed to be used. Buses should also be sterilised regularly during and after operation hours including the frequently touched surfaces. On each bus, doors should be monitored automatically by the driver to open and close them.
Furthermore, operators should place awareness signs inside the bus and must unify a reporting process to inform the school, ITC and concerned entities of any confirmed COVID-19 cases among students, supervisors or drivers. Operators should also ensure that physical distancing is implemented between students at assembly points. Moreover, the number of trips between schools and students’ houses should be increased and distributed on different timings according to the instructions of the Ministry of Education and the Department of Education and Knowledge.
While on buses, students are required to wear facemasks except for children below 6 years old, avoid shaking hands with others, sit in designated places or according to the supervisor or drivers’ instructions, inform the supervisor or driver immediately in case of feeling sick or fatigue and sanitise hands before and after boarding the bus.
Schools should ensure that each supervisor and bus drivers are free of COVID-19 by representing a certificate and renew it whenever needed. Schools should also offer enough number of school buses, taking into consideration the application of physical distances. Additionally, schools are required to ensure the availability of thermometers and checking the students’ temperature before boarding the bus along with offering masks, gloves, hand sanitisers and air freshener.
Moreover, schools are required to organise awareness workshops to increase the student’s understanding of the risk of COVID-19 and the best ways to prevent its spread. Schools should require parents to sign a pledge that they will teach their children about the virus and following the preventive measures.
Any students with disease symptoms will not be allowed to use the bus. Schools should ensure that physical distancing is implemented among students in buses and there should be a vacant seat between each student and the other. While boarding the bus, students must stay 6 feet apart from the other. Drivers and supervisors’ temperature should be checked every day before the start of their work shift and should register in Al Hosn Application.
The safety procedures also address drivers and supervisors permit issuing or renewing expired ones in case they were out of the UAE.
With the new academic year approaching, the safety procedures were prepared to ensure the safety of the school transport users that reached 405,000 students, 4,900 supervisors and 7,625 drivers last year. Lately, ITC has instructed school buses operators to coordinate with the academic institutions in order to sterilise the 7625 school buses that are serving 690 public and private schools and nurseries under the supervision of ITC’s School Transport Team. The team monitored the compliance with the preventive measures to stop the outbreak of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of the students.
ITC conducted many workshops with the attendance of more than 160 operators in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. During which, the preventive measures, the sterilising process and the challenges were discussed and addressed.
It is worth to mention that the school transport safety procedures were shared with the concerned entities to follow and maintain the safety of the students and employees in this sector during these challenging times.