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Palm Beach County school bus drivers voice concerns about first day of work

'We have to be concerned about our families as well,' says school bus driver
School Bus
Posted at 9:47 PM, Sep 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-15 23:20:09-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County school bus drivers will begin their routes Wednesday morning, picking up ESE students who are returning to brick-and-mortar instruction.

The School District of Palm Beach County has said that every student will have to wear a mask on the bus, but it has also said that because of the number of student riders and buses, it's unlikely they will be able to maintain social distancing on the buses once all brick-and-mortar instruction begins Monday.

"You can't get 100% out of a scared worker," bus driver Rhonda Miller said.

Miller said she will begin her full routes Wednesday morning picking up her ESE students.

"My attendant and I have a relationship with our kids and they don't see us, so the first thing they are going to do is run to us," Miller said.

She is worried that the children on her bus won't keep their masks on and won't socially distance from her or each other.

The district said Monday nearly 60,000 students are expected to return to brick-and-mortar instruction. Many will be riding the bus to school.

"When we send them on the bus, we assume that they are going to go to school. They might not social distance as well," Angela Shtulman said.

She has a kindergartner and a third-grade student returning to brick-and-mortar instruction Monday, as well as riding the bus to school.

Shtulman said parents will need to be cautious and make sure they are not sending sick children to school, but they also need to be realistic about what a return to the classroom looks like.

"They're going to try to, you know, touch their friends and they're going to try to do all that," Shtulman added. "You know, we can't control everything that happens for the eight hours they're going to be in school."

The school district said school buses will be sanitized between routes, but maintaining social distancing will be unlikely due to the number of student riders and buses.

"Just like the families of the children that we transport, we have to be concerned about our families as well," Miller added.

Ahead of the opening of school campuses, Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy and Wanda Paul, the chief operating officer, will host a live question-and-answer session Thursday on the school district's Facebook page for parents who have questions about the start of in-person instruction.