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School buses may not be an option for some students

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HOUSTON (CNN) -- It's one of parents' biggest concerns about returning to school in the fall: how will the children get there safely?

Millions of students rely on school buses, which don't have space for social distancing.

Lucy Forbes was shocked when she learned that her 13-year-old daughter won’t be eligible to take a school bus to and from her Houston middle school.

The city's acting superintendent recently announced that, in order to meet CDC social distancing guidelines, only a fraction of its 60,000 students who regularly ride the bus will have an available seat.

Forbes, a single mother, works full time. Her hours at the office make it nearly impossible for her to drive her daughter herself.

"For me, it will require a two hour commute a day," she said. "I have a greater spectrum of options, but I'm worried about the families who don't."

Refitting buses is a challenge for school districts already facing budget pressures.

Austin, Texas, announced buses will have a capacity of 12 students.

And like Houston, only eligible students will be provided with initial seating.

Atlanta will be limiting bus ridership to 60 percent.

Philadelphia public schools plan to limit each school bus to 11-15 students.
Smaller cities are also feeling the pressure.

"It's more of a rural school issue. Many of your bigger metropolitan schools, where they may have more students, but quite often have smaller geographic districts," said Ron Wilson

Many school bus drivers are concerned about possible risks to their own health too.

The school bus industry has introduced a $10 billion dollar relief plan, that Congress may or may not take up.

Social distancing will make carpooling less appealing. And according to the CDC, less than 10% of us students walk or bike to schools.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has created COVID-19 School Bus Safety Guidance. Click HERE to read.

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