Reopening: Transportation

The City School District of Albany works in partnership with First Student and CDTA to provide bus service for all eligible students in the district, including all eligible students attending private, parochial and charter schools located in the city.

The district defines eligible students as those students in grades K-12 who live 1.5 miles or more from their school, and students whose Individual Education Plan (IEP) requires specialized transportation. The district partners with First Student to transport all eligible elementary students and students with special needs, and with CDTA to transport all eligible middle school and high school students. The district does not provide transportation for prekindergarten students.

When schools are following in-person or hybrid schedules, the district encourages parents and guardians to plan to drop off or walk students to school on the days they are required to attend to reduce density on buses whenever possible.

All of the district’s transportation services will be consistent with state-issued public transit guidance and New York State Education Department School Reopening guidelines, and also in alignment with guidance from the New York State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

First Student (elementary and special needs)

General education

Following NYSDOH and NYSED guidance, the district will operate yellow buses for general education students at a maximum of 50% capacity to observe appropriate social distancing. This would mean one student per seat on all large buses, with students from the same household allowed to sit two-to-a-seat. The maximum capacity on a large bus serving general education elementary students will be 24-35.

All students will have assigned seats for the bus ride to and from school each day. Students will be required to sit in their assigned seat each time they ride a bus. Each bus will be filled from back to front to minimize students passing one another in the aisle (i.e., the first student to board the bus will be assigned to a seat in the last row in the back; the last student to board the bus will be assigned to a seat in the first row in front).

All students and employees on all First Student buses will be required to wear a mask or other face covering unless there is an underlying medical condition. The parent or guardian must provide a doctor’s note to support any underlying medical condition that would prevent a student from wearing a mask or other face covering.

If a student does not have a mask when they arrive at the bus stop in the morning and is preparing to board the bus, a supply of masks will be available as the student is boarding. The student will be required to take a mask and put it on before proceeding to his or her assigned seat.

Special education

The district will adhere to strict and appropriate social distancing protocols on yellow buses serving students with special needs. We will have a limited capacity of 4-10 students on small buses, and 1-3 students on wheelchair buses (wheelchair buses will configure wheelchair placement to ensure social distancing of 6 feet).

The capacity of each bus serving students with special needs will be dependent on all students being medically able to wear a mask or other appropriate face covering. For students whose IEP does not specifically identify a medical reason why a student cannot wear a mask or other face covering, the parent or guardian must provide a doctor’s note to support any underlying medical condition that would prevent a student from wearing a mask or other face covering.

Cleaning and disinfection

All First Student yellow buses will be cleaned and disinfected in alignment with CDC and NYSDOH guidance. Drivers will wipe down all high-touch areas after each run, and First Student also will implement an additional daily deep-cleaning protocol for all buses with an EPA-approved COVID-19 disinfectant.

Staff training

First Student is providing comprehensive health and safety training to all members of the Albany team, including all drivers and aides, and also minimizing or eliminating in-person contact as much as possible during daily operations.

First Student has developed a new Safe Start training during the COVID-19 crisis that all employees will take part in prior to the start of the new school year. The training includes guidance on the appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment, symptoms to be on the lookout for and steps an employee should follow if they are experiencing symptoms. First Student also is planning to deliver that training in formats that take into account the need for social distancing to assure a safe training environment, including virtual options.


CDTA is planning to limit student ridership on tripper and all regular-service buses to maintain appropriate social distancing. CDTA is planning for a maximum of 30 riders per tripper bus, approximately 50% of normal capacity, to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Middle school and high school students eligible for transportation will continue to use their swiper card/student ID to ride any CDTA bus and must follow all CDTA guidance. Information about bus schedules and other information is available at

CDTA strongly recommends that all riders, including students, wear a mask or other face covering, in alignment with Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order from the spring of 2020 requiring masks in public when social distancing guidelines of 6 feet or more cannot be observed. CDTA bus operators will wear face masks and also will have the option of wearing face shields.

Cleaning and disinfecting

CDTA also is following guidance from the NYSDOH and CDC to keep employees and customers safe. This includes modified bus and facility cleaning processes that use a deep-cleaning liquid that contains a hospital-grade sanitizing agent.

CDTA bus operators will have access to disposable gloves and sanitizing wipes to do additional wipe downs of their work areas. CDTA also has cleaners in the field doing wipe-downs of buses at layover areas multiple times throughout the day. In addition to the daily cleaning and disinfecting procedures, CDTA also is utilizing a quarterly sanitizing process that kills bacteria and inactivates viruses on contact.

School bus staff

All First Student and CDTA drivers, aides and other staff are required to perform a self-health assessment for symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving to work. If personnel are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, they will notify their employer as per the reporting policies and seek medical attention. 

Hand sanitizer is not allowed on buses due to its combustible composition. Drivers and aides must not carry personal bottles of hand sanitizer with them on school buses. Hand sanitizer will be provided at each bus garage and dispatch location, and all bus personnel will be encouraged to wash their hands with soap and water before each run to keep healthy and prevent the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections from one person to the next.

Drivers and aides who must have direct physical contact with a child must wear gloves.

When temperatures are above 45 degrees Fahrenheit, buses will transport passengers with roof hatches or windows slightly opened to provide air flow to the extent possible due to safety and other considerations.

Additional information

The district encourages parents and guardians to take their children’s temperature before sending them to the bus stop or school. If the student’s temperature is above 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit the student should stay home from school.

Each students’ temperature will be checked before the student enters the school building. If a student has a temperature in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, school staff will contact the parent or guardian immediately and keep the student in a designated isolation area until the parent or guardian can make arrangements to have the student picked up at school.

When students embark and disembark the bus, they will be instructed to follow social distancing protocols. This will increase the time required to load and unload buses at schools in the morning and afternoon. Schools are taking these important processes into consideration in planning for the start and end of the school day when in-person or hybrid models are in place so that social distancing guidelines can be observed with fidelity.

For more information about how transportation information and training protocols will be communicated, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.