NewsPalm Beach CountyRegion C Palm Beach County


Palm Beach County bus drivers concerned about reopening of brick-and-mortar schools

Drivers said their buses had dead animals, feces on them during mock run last week
Posted at 4:17 PM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 17:53:53-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Now that Gov. Ron DeSantis has approved Palm Beach County's request to join Phase Two of Florida's reopening plan, brick-and-mortar schools in Palm Beach County could reopen as early as Tuesday, Sept. 15.

But bus drivers say they don't feel safe.

The School District of Palm Beach County wants bus drivers to sanitize their buses in between routes, but drivers said it's not possible.

Many said they have concerns about their safety and the safety of students who will ride the bus.

"If our buses are not safe, it doesn’t matter how safe these schools are," one driver said.

Concerns came to light during Wednesday's virtual school board meeting.

"We came back to work and the buses were dirty. They had dead animals on them," said bus driver Martha White.

Four bus drivers who did not want to reveal their identities also said their buses were not clean when they returned to work for a mock route run last week.

"My bus also had feces and urine on it," one driver said.

The school district said all of the buses were sanitized prior to the mock run.

Chief Operating Officer Wanda Paul admitted one of the bus depots has a raccoon problem.

But drivers have other concerns.

"We are the first ones the kids meet in the mornings and when they get on the bus we don’t do temperature checks. We don’t know if they have fever. We cant keep any six feet on our school buses, it's a closed environment," one driver said.

Doubts over being able to maintain distancing on the rides are amplified for drivers with young children and special needs students on board.

"You can't control them," one driver said.

Right now, the district does not know how many students will be riding buses. It was mentioned during Wednesday's meeting that if not all bus drivers are needed, some could be moved to provide extra help on other buses.

The school district said drivers will receive cleaning supplies and training and will be required to clean the buses in between routes.

"I think they need to give us similar gear that the nurses in hospitals are using for us to feel safe, because we can easily load 60 to 70 kids on the bus if you’re a regular driver," one driver said.