Transportation employees provide valuable assistance during pandemic
The Wayne County Bus Drivers/Monitors have been very busy during these recent times of non-transported school days.
“They have worked extra hard and gone above and beyond what they have been asked to do,” while waiting for the return of in-person classes, according to Transportation Interim Director Johnny Young. “They have been very cooperative and willing to try new things and challenges.”
“They’ve worked cooperatively together to become better drivers too,” added Young.
They have enhanced their skills by watching training videos, driving their school route looking for ways to make the route safer and more efficient, and have ridden with other drivers to learn other routes and see other parts of the county, while observing and evaluating fellow drivers’ practices.
One of their most important duties has been cleaning the inside and outside of their buses and then sanitizing them to make them safe to use during this COVID outbreak. As classes resume, they have been sanitizing their buses twice a day – after both their morning and afternoon runs.
Not only have they been sanitizing their buses, but they have also helped with the cleaning of the school buildings and outside grounds of the campus. They have provided valuable assistance to the school maintenance department team, too.
The drivers have been especially proud to help the food service department deliver food to the children of Wayne County. Currently, they have been transporting meals cooked in the various cafeterias to the central location at the Wayne County Middle School for the Tuesday pick up days. They have also helped load the buses to meet the needs of over 2,000 young people. Most recently four buses have transported meals to distribution sites sprinkled throughout the county, manned with a driver, monitor and food service employee. The bus arrives at the site at the top of each hour from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and make themselves available for about 30 minutes until they leave to go to the next stop. Families have appreciated the five days of breakfast and five days of lunches, along with a gallon of milk for each child through the federally funded Summer Feeding Program.
Some of the transportation staff have assisted teachers at the schools preparing and working with students. Bus drivers are keenly aware of the welfare of the students that ride their buses. It is not uncommon for a driver to have been associated with students along their routes from the time they entered school at Walker Early Learning Center until they graduate from Wayne County High School. They have a more permanent relationship with the students, who are sometimes their neighbors, than the bonds they establish with their teachers.
The bus drivers will be very aware of how the students will be sitting on their bus and have assigned seating, as they return to school on the red and white schedule after fall break. Children from the same household are being seated together and the remainder of the students are spread out on the bus, wearing masks and social distancing. Each bus driver has a roster of eligible student riders (passenger manifest)) and document the assigned seats for contact tracing.
The drivers got some practice with crowd control issues while helping with the sports teams in various ways. They also learned to do temperature checks, which will come in handy on preschool routes as the monitors check the youngest learner’s temperatures before they board the preschool bus. Students traveling on the regular routes will get checked when they arrive at school. Parents should be encouraged to take their students’ temperatures before they go to the bus stop. Children exhibiting a fever should be kept at home.
The drivers worked in shifts to move the central office to their new location in the former ATC Building. They had to take furniture apart and reassemble it, organize the transport of delicate school records, and move each employee’s offices. A professional moving company could not have done as good a job, as the Wayne County Schools’ Transportation Department.
It comes as no surprise to realize what an asset the transportation employees are to the students and the rest of the school staff. It takes a village to meet the needs of Wayne County’s students whether it is during in-person school or Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) days.
Bus Driver Ronnie Sexton worked the gate at a soccer game, taking Athletic Director Kevin Jones' temperature as a screening precaution before entering a school soccer competition to help make up some of his driving hours.
Interim Transportation Director Johnny Young coordinated plans for drivers' workloads to compensate for their driving hours when school was not in session..
Transportation employees met for trainings and meetings related to new CDC guidelines.Senior Trainer Dwight Dobbs discussed ways drivers could implement the plans.
Driver Jennifer Jones, whose Bus 268 runs out 92 East, arranges milk gallons to be transported on last day of site distributions
Jennifer Jones and Bus Driver 243 Tasha Jones finished packing up a school bus packed full of food headed for distribution sites towards the end of September.
Interim Transportation Director Johnny Young confirmed route plans for one of the five buses being used in September heading to distribution sites scattered throughout the county. WCHS Cook Melissa Hancock was among nutrition employees that rode the buses to keep track of the required bookeeping for the Summer Meals Program that was extended.
Driver Allen Mercer, who drives Bus 205 to Meadow Creek, unloads milk jugs from pickup truck bed to be sent to distribution sites on board school buses. Mercer ran a dairy farm operation for 37 years, so he laughed that he is used to being in the milk business as he loaded cartons of milk.
Kenny Albertson grabbed bins of milk to load onto buses
Driver Donald Kennedy helped organize meal distribution for pick-up service at the middle school back entrance.