Richland parents raise concern over hot school buses

RICHLAND, Wash. – As temperatures rise in the Tri-Cities, some local parents are becoming increasingly concerned about their kids who ride school buses and must wear masks.

On Thursday afternoon, a group of parents gathered at the Richland School District bus headquarters, in hopes of figuring out just how hot these buses get.

Shelly Burt said her concern started this week when her son’s teacher cancelled morning recess.

“So, if it’s hot enough to cancel morning recess, I put him on the bus, it was very hot already, I asked if there was air conditioning, she said she couldn’t turn it on, she said ‘no none of our buses have air conditioning in the district.’ My son was upset because it was so hot, so I just took him off the bus I’m not going to let him ride the bus again,” Burt said.

However, not all parents have this option Burt added. She and others believe students shouldn’t have to wear a mask, especially while on a hot bus. They also think parents should be able to exempt their children from wearing a mask overall.

KAPP KVEW reached out to the Richland School District to learn if they’re working on a plan as kids will have to rely on transportation for summer school in the following months.

“District staff reached out to the local health district this morning and their staff noted that if students are 6 feet apart on the bus they may take a mask break if windows are down. Otherwise they must wear masks as required by state COVID-19 precautions. We are continuing to look at ways to mitigate the discomfort students may have in wearing masks in hot weather.”

Burt and her friends reached out to Sheriff Jerry Hatcher who joined them at the RSD transportation headquarters. He said his goal is to bring everyone together to open up a conversation about these parents’ concerns.

“I said maybe we can partner with law enforcement, give the schools water so when kids are getting on the bus on hot days they have water available to them, they can stay hydrated, make sure they’re able to hydrate and social distance; you know, how crowded the bus is, they can remove their masks take mask breaks,” Sheriff Hatcher said.

Burt said they’re also concerned about the bus drivers wearing masks and think they too, should be able to take them off.

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