Back to School: How Ottawa’s School Buses Will Change


OTTAWA – The Ottawa Student Transportation Agency (OSTA) has released its guidelines for a safe return to school aboard its many yellow school buses and other forms of school transportation in the capital. Students returning to class in September and taking the school bus should maintain as much distance as possible from the bus stop. In the case of larger bus stops, the OSTA indicates that the stop can be divided into several stops to disperse children.

Before boarding the bus, students are encouraged to disinfect their hands using hand sanitizer. It is strongly recommended that everyone wear a mask, including students in Kindergarten to Grade 3, for whom masks are not mandatory in school. Students in grades 4 to 12 must wear a mask on the bus.

When boarding, children will be asked not to clutter the front door, but to sneak into the bus while staying as far away as possible.

Students will have assigned seats, prepared by each school. The seats will be clearly numbered. Siblings are expected to be grouped together, and children without siblings should be grouped with a classmate, although OSTA says this is still under review by Ottawa Public Health (OPH ).

The driver is responsible for telling the students where to sit. Kindergarten students will be seated in the front and a parent or guardian will meet them at the stop as usual.

“The loading capacity will be normal, with a full load of 48 to 70 students, depending on the number of eligible students and their grade level. Students can be seated 2 or 3 per bench, ”says OSTA, again noting that OPH is reviewing, and that this information may change.

There will be a thorough cleaning of the vehicles twice a day with an approved disinfectant.

“Once after the morning races and once again after the afternoon races. The handrail, a high contact area, will be cleaned after each race, ”explains OSTA.


The OSTA says parents or guardians are responsible for screening their children for symptoms of COVID-19 and keeping them home if they are sick. Students who fall ill at school will be isolated.

“Parents will need to pick up their child from the bus stop or school immediately after identifying a sick child. Unattended sick students at a standstill will be isolated in the vehicle when boarding, if possible, ”says OSTA.

Parents who do not wish to send their children to school on a school bus are asked to withdraw from the transport as soon as possible. You can find the form on the OSTA website.

You can reactivate the service at any time, but OSTA says the reassignment to transport may take some time depending on the volume of changes.

OSTA says operators will try to keep the same driver on the same bus every day as much as possible. Drivers will be required to wear masks unless exempted due to a medical condition. Parents are recommended to prepare their children for a school bus driver with personal protective equipment (PPE), which can seem alarming at first.


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