by Matt Kaufman
on April 16, 2021
In this video, Jared and Jackie talk about keeping the bus ride safe for 2021!
Welcome back to this week’s video, where we answer some of the questions that you’ve been sending our way and trying to get you as prepared as possible for this upcoming camp season. For those that don’t know, my name is Jared, and I’m one of the directors here at Ramaquois. And joining me again is is my friend and colleague Jackie Port.
Hi, everybody. Thanks for watching.
Our goal, as always, is to be as transparent as possible. Give you all the best information that we have available to us at this time as we continue to await further guidance from the state. So we will give you the best information that we have to date and any updates that we receive. We will pass along to you. Before we dive deep into this week’s video and our most common question and topic of the week. We’d like to remind all of our enrolled families if you haven’t already done so please make sure that you complete the forms that we requested you get to us before camp, the sooner the better would be great. Make sure that you place your orders for your clothing if you haven’t done that already, even your complimentary shirts, remember, are ordered through our clothing company and make sure you upload a recent photo of your child. We have some campers that have been with us for ten years, and we have adorable photos of them when they were four, but now they’re 14, and we’d love to see an updated photos so that we can have that available to us and be as prepared as possible for everybody to come.
Also, one final reminder, we have a Ramaquois app that you can download for either your iPhone or Android. Make sure that you go to your respective stores to download that free app, and you’ll be able to use that pre camp and then during the camp season to view photos, view videos, and to access almost all the same information that you can get by logging into our parent site. So I think now that we have some of the housekeeping out of the way, I think we’re ready to move forward and start talking about this week’s topic.
Jackie, you want to give us an intro as to what our topic is?
Absolutely. We’ve been getting a lot of questions on transportation, and we’ve been answering them a little bit as we go. But today we decided to dedicate this entire video to answer questions about transportation.
I want you to know I came prepared, so I’m ready to sing The Wheels on the bus. Is that helpful at all to anybody? Please don’t. All right. I’ll avoid that. I also had one of my favorite songs by the Who is Magic Bus. I could sing that one. Nobody. All right. The third option is probably the worst one, and that is the song I wrote for Song and Cheer 30 years ago where I said, don’t just stand there, bust a camp.
That one I’d like to hear.
I don’t know if I remember all the lyrics, maybe some former campers to help me out with that. But all right, bad jokes aside and bad songs aside, I think we’re ready to go. So let’s get started.
Sounds good. Okay, well, the most common question we get is pretty general, but what a lot of families want to know is what are we doing to make the bus ride COVID safe?
Excellent question. And certainly a very fair one. Like you said before, we’ve talked a little bit about some of these things in general, but we’re going to try to dive a little bit deeper today into this particular topic. So the very first thing is based on the current guidelines. Our expectation is that every person on the bus will be wearing a face covering for the duration of the ride that will apply to the staff and to the campers on the bus. So that’s first and foremost, the second thing is our plan is to have the windows open on the buses, and that will help increase airflow, increase ventilation and from everything that we know about COVID, we know that when you create those situations it creates a much healthier environment for everyone on the bus at that time, another plan that we have is that it’s going to be one person per seat. With two exceptions, two people who live in the same household can share a seat. I know some siblings don’t always want to sit together, but we’re going to make sure that they can share a seat. And the second situation where two campers could share a seat is if they are in the same group at camp, which means that they’re part of the same cohort. So those are the two situations where we’ll make sure that campers could share a seat. Otherwise it’ll be one child per seat. The fourth thing is that we will not be using re circulated air conditioning on the bus, so we’ll make sure that the fresh air comes through the windows. There are two different types of air conditioning. We will not use the one where they recycle and recirculate the air from inside the vehicle again. So those are some of the basics to make sure that everybody on the bus is as safe as possible. All right, Jackie, this next question is for you. Okay. In previous videos, we talked about de-densifying certain areas of camp. Are we densifying buses as well?
That’s a great question. I also just want to add something, Jared, that you were speaking of earlier about the bus safety. I think it’s also important to know that Ramaquois buses are never used throughout the day, other than for Ramaquois campers. So in addition to that, our buses will be sanitized daily. So I think that’s also important to mention, as far as de-densifying, the answer is yes. What we’re planning to do is, in addition to each camper sitting in their own seat, there are certain routes where we might be using slightly larger vehicles. We’re still not using full size school buses, but there are 20 passengers, 30 passengers. There’s different variations of mini buses. So we are still using mini-vans, but there are some routes that may have had a 20 passenger that might get a 30 passenger. But what’s important is we don’t put 20 or 30 passengers on those buses, and we never have. Ramaquois never packed the buses. So this year, just to de-densify, we are going to probably be using slightly larger vehicles, but that does not mean to pick up more campers. It’s the same amount of campers as a typical run on a slightly larger vehicle. And that’s one way we are definitely planning to de-densify.
I’m going to give you the next one also, because you did such a good job on that one. I’m going to send you that way as well. We’ve gotten a handful of questions, as most people know, Ramaquois transports all of our campers. There are sometimes an exception or two, or somebody might drive their child to camp. But we’ve gotten that question, can I drive my child to camp?
That’s a question I’ve actually fielded myself a few times. It’s not something that we are encouraging for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons is the camp day begins when the campers get on the bus. I mean, we’ve done everything we possibly can to make the bus ride as safe as possible, and that’s when the camp day begins. So we really encourage the children to take the buses to camp. Of course, this year is different than other years. If it is something that you are considering or that you would like us to consider for you, you need to please call the camp office. There are some logistics involved. This cannot be widespread. There’s a limited amount of traffic that we can safely welcome and send in and out of camp. So please call our office. It’s something we can certainly discuss with you.
Yeah, well, said. Absolutely. All right. I gave you two in a row, so I’m ready if you want to throw one back. Okay.
I’m ready. And this is another question which I’m going to give you an out from the beginning saying, I don’t know if we actually know the full answer yet, but a question we’ve been getting quite frequently is, what will a contact trace look for someone who might be exposed on a bus?
Got it. Right. Okay. So again, as you sort of alluded to, it’s a little difficult to answer. One of the things that we’ve learned is that for many of our campers who have been going to school all year, that the contact tracing on buses is not what we originally thought it was. We originally believed that everybody on the bus would be part of the contact tracing and would be obligated to quarantine if there were a positive case of one person on that bus. It appears that that’s not what the local or state level health departments have been doing. They’ve been really going with where people are seated and who’s next to the particular person who may have tested positive. So I think one thing that we really want to make sure that everybody understands is that there are going to be assigned seats for our campers and our staff on the buses. So a camper sits on one seat on the way to camp. He or she is going to sit in the same seat on the way home, and we’re going to make sure that those assigned seats remain as consistent as possible for the duration of the camp season. Obviously, different campers have different sessions that they attend, but for the best of our ability, for as much as we can, we’re going to make sure that those assigned seats are maintained consistently. So a contact trace really would be depending on where a particular child might be sitting next to somebody who may have a possible positive case of COVID. So the good news is it doesn’t necessarily include everyone that’s part of the vehicle. It would probably just include somebody who might be sitting in the next seat, either, right next to directly in front, directly behind them. If the health officials determined that that was part of the contact trace that they felt they were close enough to have been part of some sort of exposure. So that was some really good news. And we’re again waiting further updates to that. But something that we think is going to actually make it a little bit safer for those that are going to be traveling on buses. It’s even more safe than what we had originally intended. All right. I’m going to go right back to our next question.
I’m going to throw it back to you. So we talked about all the changes that we’ve had, but we’ve sort of made some allusion to the fact that a lot of things are the way that we’ve always done them. So here’s the question, Jackie. Very simple. What isn’t changing ?
One thing that is not changing for anything having to do with Ramaquois, not just the bus. The safety is still and always will be the primary concern. And that is always our focus. What’s specific to the bus? What’s not changing is that every bus is still going to have a bus counselor. Every bus is still going to be driven by a professionally licensed school bus driver. The drivers drive for school districts throughout the year. They all hold a CDL, a commercial driver’s license, and their focus is on driving the bus and taking care of the route.
The bus counselors will do everything else. We have seatbelts on all the buses and harnesses. A harness is just a five point seatbelt for the younger campers under the age of four under 40 pounds. That’s what the harness is, something else that has not changed. I mentioned it earlier - the fun on the bus. Fun on the bus as part of the Ramaquois program. Yeah, the camp day begins when the child is picked up on the bus, not when the bus arrives to camp. That is something that has not changed and will not change for this summer. And the other thing is, our transportation is still door to door. Every family has the option of door to door transportation, and that is, I shouldn’t say the option has the benefit of door to door transportation. That is something else that has not changed.
Before we end this video, Jared, I just want to ask one more question because I know we began this video segment talking about everything that we’re doing to keep the bus ride safe, but I think we should also mention things we’re doing prior to the children getting on the bus that will also result in making the bus ride safe.
Yeah, that’s a really good question. So one of the things that we’re going to make sure before the bus route even starts, every bus is going to be equipped with extra masks and hand sanitizers so that if those things are needed either before a child gets on or during the bus ride itself, the bus will be prepped and ready for all those things. Also, parents are going to be asked and our staff are going to be asked to complete a health screening every morning prior to the bus even arriving. That will be able to be done on the Ramaquois app, the aforementioned app that hopefully people either have or about to download, and they’ll have to answer a couple of basic questions about the child’s health before the bus arrives. When the bus does arrive before the child gets on the bus, we’re going to be asking our bus counselors to do a very quick temperature screen to make sure that nobody with a fever is getting onto the bus. And that will help make sure that before anybody even gets onto the vehicle, that we have been as prepared and safe as possible. I believe that those measures are going to make sure that we have everyone in the best possible position to enjoy the bus ride as best they can.
Sure. So I think that’s it for today. We’ve talked about a lot of things related to the bus if at any point anybody has any other questions related to buses or anything else, you can always call our office and you can send emails to me. It’s Jared at Ramaquois.com that’s J-A-R-E-D. At Ramaquois.com. We will continue to post updates on our social media. If you’re not already following us on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, please make sure you check us out there. We try to post, not only updates about the upcoming summer, but just some interesting info, some throwback information and other things that we think are exciting, not only about the upcoming camp season, but maybe some previous camp seasons. So make sure you check us out there, if you are a social media person. We’d like to thank everybody for the time that you’ve taken to watch this video. And we look forward to seeing you again next week with another installment of our COVID Videos or COVIDEOS or prep for camp, whatever you want to call them. And I think that’s it for today. Well, without further ado, I don’t need an intro. I’ll just do this. We end all of our lineups at camp the same way. And so these videos have been no exception to that. So before we go, I just want to wish everyone a great day and to say, have fun. There’s a camp out there!
Matt has spent his summers at Camp Ramaquois since 1984 — as a camper, counselor, and in various administrative positions, including his current role of Associate Director. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering from Cornell University. At camp, Matt works in program development, staff training and camper engagement. He has served as the program chair of the Tri-State Camp Conference and authored a book about summer camp staff training entitled The Summer Camp MBA. Outside of camp, he enjoys hiking, reading, website development, and spending time with his wife, nieces, nephew and dog.
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