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    Yellow Bus Transportation and Student Schedule Update
    Posted on 03/24/2021

    Yellow Bus Transportation and Student Schedule Update

    School Board Approves New Bell Times

    To support students' equitable access to in-person learning, we are taking the immediate step to increase yellow bus transportation and accommodate as many students as possible.

    This requires a change to elementary and K-8 bell schedules, school start and end times. We are asking everyone to adjust a little so that we can serve more students that need and want in-person learning. This change was approved by School Board on Wednesday, March 24.

    Background: Providing SPS student transportation became significantly more challenging to plan and staff as a result of the governor's order to return all K-5 students by April 5.

    The transportation department had been thoughtfully building full-time routes for a phased increase of students beginning with preschool and K-12 students enrolled in Special Education Intensive Pathways.

    The governor's March 15 order to immediately increase K-5 students in addition to the 1/2 day in-person instructional model agreed to with Seattle Education Association didn't leave the transportation team enough time to rebuild routes, and our bus contractor to hire and train drivers. To serve students per the district's pre-pandemic transportation service standards and follow additional bargained agreements, approximately 400 buses would have been required. As of March 18, about half the number of required bus drivers were available.

    The district recognizes and is deeply concerned about the inequities created for our students and families during our pandemic response – especially those furthest from educational justice.

    To address this and keep school start and end times consistent, the district determined yellow buses would be prioritized for students that we are legally obligated to provide transportation and those most vulnerable. These students include students receiving special education services whose Individualized Education Program (IEP) requires transportation, Head Start participants, McKinney-Vento (a program that serves students experiencing homelessness), students receiving foster care services, and students with a 504 accommodation for transportation.

    We know these efforts didn't go far enough to provide access to in-person learning for students who need it most.

    New Elementary and K-8 Bell Schedules

    Elementary and K-8 schools will begin at 8 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m. for students in both the remote and hybrid, in-person model (part-time in person and part-time remote).

    This change does not include 6th-8th grade comprehensive middle schools. Comprehensive middle schools will continue to begin at 9 a.m.

    Bell Schedule

    8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday

    • Morning Block: 8 – 10:45 a.m.
    • Afternoon Block: 11:45 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

    8 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. Wednesday

    • All students will be remote

    This 30-minute adjustment to bell schedules will allow more students the opportunity to participate in the 1/2 day, in-person hybrid learning model. With an hour between elementary and secondary start times, we can use the same drivers and buses to transport students increasing access to yellow bus transportation. This approach is a return to our normal transportation model and operations for in-person learning.

    The change will take place on March 29 for all elementary and K-8 students and continue through the end of this school year.

    While the district can't guarantee transportation to students beyond those that we are legally obligated to support, we will continue to work to increase transportation access in the most equitable way possible. The district will use our school equity tiering system as we develop routes and expand opportunities for general education students to return in person with transportation.

    Once 6-12th grade students return to school buildings, Orca Cards will be provided. We are working with King County Metro to coordinate additional safety and timing for routes.