A UGA bus stops outside of Memorial Hall on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo/Jason Born)

This article is part of a series breaking down the University of Georgia’s plans for the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The University of Georgia’s campus buses are crowded during the semester. Particularly during class changes, students are packed into a small, unventilated space in which it’s hard to practice social distancing. Because the coronavirus spreads through respiratory droplets, the virus could spread under these conditions.

UGA buses will follow new safety guidelines this fall to mitigate the spread of the virus, outlined in UGA’s current 200-plus page reopening report. The university is planning on returning to in-person classes on Aug. 20 and will move to online learning after Thanksgiving. Campus transit will run through Dec. 17, the regular end of the semester.

The bus procedures are based on current Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines, the report says.

The report says crowded buses make “physical distancing more challenging” and buses will limit ridership using FTA and DPH guidelines. The FTA refers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about social distancing on buses. The CDC recommends keeping a distance of 6 feet between people.

A CDC document on the FTA website says that transit services should be able to comply with state and local guidelines surrounding COVID-19 and protect employees at higher risk for severe illness before they increase service.

Other guidelines in the document include promoting hygiene practices such as hand-washing, increasing cleaning and wearing masks. It also says employees should be monitored for signs of illness.

UGA’s Enterprise Information Technology Services will promote an existing campus map in the UGA App that shows walking and cycling routes on campus to show alternatives to the buses. The report also says the Watch for Dawgs website, which details walking routes and safety, will be used to encourage walking and social distancing.

The report says UGA may need more buses to meet social distancing requirements. Adding more buses and bus drivers could cost $130,000 per week.

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