School Bus Barriers

The following message is from Lieutenant Brian Reu, Minnesota State Patrol.

There have been quite a few questions surfacing regarding the installation of barriers around the drivers area. Attached is a picture of a curtain idea that will not fly. There are several concerns with the curtain idea with the vision obstruction being one of the most significant. While it appears see through a drivers vision would be distorted. An idea was also suggested that the driver could pull it shut during student stops and then slide it open again once the stop is complete so the drivers vision is not obstructed.
First off, I don’t see that happening and secondly the driver’s attention needs to be on the students and other motorists during a student stop rather than trying to adjust a curtain. Another issue I see with this idea is the curtain would be flapping around when the windows are open.
Questions have been asked about installing plexiglass around the driver and I’ve also heard if it being suggested in the student compartment area now as well. As far as installing it around the driver I see this a huge challenge to do it properly without impacting compartmentalization. The barrier must not attach to or affect the movement of the front crash barrier in the event of a crash. The barriers are designed to flex and move upon impact from a student and installing something that would interfere with that is not allowed. The driver would also need full access to all of the controls. You will want to talk to the school bus manufactures about what they are approving for modifications.
Similar concerns comes in to play when considering installing it in the student compartment. Along with the compartmentalization there are issues to consider as well. One being hazardous sharp protuberances, based on the design specifications the interior of the bus must be free of all unnecessary protrusions. Another concern is installing plexiglass or barriers over seat backs would restrict access to the window exits. In addition to the required emergency exits all windows on a school bus are required to allow for an unobstructed opening of at least nine inches high (but not more than 13 inches) and at least 22 inches wide. The seat backs do not line up with the window frames so the unobstructed opening would be compromised.
School Bus Inspection
I am pleased to announce that the Governor signed the omnibus bill yesterday, May 27, that contained the Interim School Bus Inspection Language! With that said the dealers in MN can now resume conducting the first time inspection on new buses or buses new to MN. The expectation remains the same that a school bus meets all of the laws and regulations to be operated as a school bus in MN before an interim decal be affixed.
For a wheelchair equipped school bus the State Patrol must still inspect the vehicle first before it can be used to transport occupants requiring the use of the wheelchair lift and/or restraint system. 
I’ve attached the bill for your reference. The interim language is in section 8 (page 5). Other areas of relevance to Activities Bus Drivers and Type III drivers can be found in Sections 12 and 13.
View Bill
Warning Lights and Stop Arms Required
Until the end of the peacetime Covid-19 emergency any school bus delivering food or supplies is now REQUIRED to use the red lights and stop arm. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Sec. 28. REQUIRING USE OF WARNING LIGHTS AND STOP ARMS ON  SCHOOL BUSES WHEN MAKING DELIVERIES TO STUDENTS.For purposes of this section, “peacetime public health emergency period” means the duration of any peacetime emergency declared by the governor in an executive order that relates to the infectious disease known as COVID-19, but ending no later than January 31, 2021.
  Notwithstanding Minnesota Statutes, section 169.443, subdivision 3, during a peacetime public health emergency period, a school bus driver must activate the prewarning flashing amber signals or flashing red signals and the stop arm signal when the school bus is stopped on a street or highway to deliver or drop off food, schoolwork, supplies, or other items for students.
View Bill
Lieutenant Brian Reu
Minnesota State Patrol
PHONE (651) 350-2007
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