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South Salt Lake Journal

With school out, buses take on new roles

Jun 11, 2020 01:07PM ● By Bill Hardesty

Since mid-March, some school buses have become Wi-Fi hotspots. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

Have you wondered why there are still school zones and school buses on the road when schools are closed?

It is because of Granite School District’s community commitment to help serve meals at local schools and bring Wi-Fi hotspots to students with the help of school buses.

Nutrition Services

Each school day, 83 schools were open to provide breakfast and lunch to neighborhood students. Regardless of which school they attend, students were welcome to the neighborhood school. For example, a Cottonwood High School student who lives by Roosevelt Elementary could go to the elementary school rather than traveling to Cottonwood.

The same plan will be used for the summer meal service starting May 26.

“Traditionally, we open summer sites in parks, but due to the current situation and the public health orders in place from Salt Lake County, we will be operating the feeding program out of school sites only, with the exception of one church location,” according to the GSD website.

Meals will be served Monday through Friday with two holiday exceptions. For South Salt Lake, Lincoln Elementary, Monroe Elementary, Roosevelt Elementary, and Granite Park Junior High School are on the list. Sites will remain open based on participation.

All children under 18 will receive meals at no charge. Children must be present at the time of meal pick up, but parents are not required to accompany children. Households may not pick up meals for someone else. Day cares within the area are welcome to participate, but children must be present.

Check the GSD website for details.

Transportation services

When a neighborhood school doesn’t exist yet like in the Riverfront area of SSL, Nutrition Services teamed up with GSD transportation to turn school buses into delivery vehicles.

Each school day, busses roll out of the depot at 10:15 a.m. traveling to a variety of locations to pick up meals. In the case of bus No. 903, it traveled to Olympus High School to pick up lunches for two 700 West locations.

Olympus produces about 600 meals a day.

Bus No. 903 stops south of 3900 South on 700 West for 45 minutes. When it arrived, people were waiting. At 11:30 a.m., it moved up the street to the Mountain Shadows apartments.

Soon people began to arrive.

“This is fantastic. Drivers doing this means a lot,” said Bryan Cowley, a caretaker of three children.

“Helping out others is good. At least we can help everybody,” a six-year bus driver said.

Across the street, another food bus was waiting for customers.

“It is wonderful to give food during times like this. It is a great plan to use school bus stops and for me, it is nice to have a schedule and be working during this pandemic,” said a 22-year bus driver.

Another service provided by GSD Transportation Services is Wi-Fi hotspots. Thirty-five buses with Wi-Fi on board are placed throughout the district. The driver parks the bus by 9 a.m. and turns on the Wi-Fi and locks the door. They come back at 5 p.m. to drive the bus back to the depot.

The buses boost the GSD Wi-Fi signal, allowing students in areas with no or spotty Internet connections to take their online courses.

In SSL, there are two buses: one at Fitts Park, 3050 S. 500 East, and the other by the South Parc Townhomes, 2248 S. 440 East.