ALC Schools is no stranger to innovation and setting industry standards. That’s why keeping up with safety protocols and legal regulations is something we, as a company, deem important in order to continue to provide the best, safest and most reliable transportation for our nation’s most vulnerable students.
We weren’t surprised when we started seeing the nuances of COVID-19 quickly shift the rules of student transportation almost over night. We had been anticipating the changes and ALC was prepared to begin implementing them immediately to resume efficiency for both our district partners and their students. For instance, we were equipped to respond when our first district partner stated that COVID-19 vaccines were mandatory for all drivers for that district. Because we are already so highly regulated, we had a compliance team in place, and within hours of that notification we developed a process to track driver vaccination status for that district, and the other states that soon followed.
This, in turn, gave us a definite industry leading edge. When we consider the key components that allowed us to be as prepared as we were, it comes down to these three:
- Strong Team
While having our own system and our own internal tech and compliance teams allowed us to stay on top of and ahead of state mandates, there was still a lot of clarification needed around what those mandates were, and how they were to be interpreted. In essence, it has been crucial to work with not only a legal team, but also our district partners. Being fully compliant is a team effort requiring all hands on deck.
Anticipation for such uncertainty is common for businesses in any type of everchanging industry. In fact, ALC had strategically prepared early on for the worst, and was steps ahead with our Field Operations team – our “boots on the ground.”
Our Field Operations team has been able to work in lockstep with service providers in each of the areas we serve. This is allowing for quick navigation through uncharted waters. This is still an ongoing process and our regional senior teams meet every day to review the impact of these mandates on us as well as our district partners in the states we actively serve.Many school districts are struggling to meet the deadlines associated with their staff (including their drivers) becoming fully vaccinated. Thus far, the mandates have been coming out quickly with little warning and in most cases, the dates associated with vaccinating are out of the districts’ control. In order to be considered fully vaccinated, there is a 14-15 day waiting period after the final dose of the chosen vaccine. Two of the three vaccines available also have waiting periods between the first and second doses, but a couple of the mandates we’ve seen required that individuals be “fully vaccinated” within 30 days of the first dose. Many school districts, their contractors, volunteers, and vendors, are struggling to meet those dates.
For school districts who may be faced with similar challenges – such as experiencing sudden regulation or requirement changes, a loss of drivers, or even a COVID-19 outbreak in their area – completely understanding state specific rules and regulations as they come up, is critical. Having partners and vendors who do the same gives the district a significant advantage.
We’ve been able to adapt and change rapidly yet working together in partnership is more important now than ever. We work with several districts that have been excellent about communicating with us the second they find out about updates in their area. We’ve even had districts change bell times to help ease the strain on an already challenged labor shortage. This has been extremely helpful because it has allowed us to have more time to adjust and act accordingly.
Overall, the differing mandates of vaccines across the nation has indeed made transportation a more precarious industry with even more fine lines. Yet still, even when faced with troublesome conditions, we are dedicated to fulfilling our mission of providing all students with alternative transportation needs an opportunity to learn, grow, and succeed every single day.
– Megan Carey