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DECATUR, Ala. – As parents get ready to send their kids back to school, it’s not just the classroom that is causing concerns about COVID-19.

School districts are also having to make plans to keep kids safe on the school bus.

Decatur City Schools officials say, just like inside school buildings, masks will be optional on school buses when school starts on Aug. 5.

They will have masks on buses and will encourage students to use them.

The school system has 80 buses, and all of the vehicles have gone through routine maintenance. Bus drivers will not be allowed to take the buses home; they’ll be locked inside a gated area at the end of the day. School officials say bus drivers have some of the highest vaccination rates among their staff, and the buses will be cleaned and sanitized regularly.

Transportation officials also want to remind you to stop whenever a school bus is stopped to pick up or drop off students.

Alabama law prohibits drivers from passing a stopped school or church bus in almost all cases – the only exception is if you’re on a four- or six-lane highway with a median in between, and you’re on the side opposite the school bus.

Bus drivers say it’s also a good idea for parents to have a conversation with their students about their behavior on the bus before the school year starts, reminding them to stay out of the aisles and to never stand up in their seats.