HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — There’s an essential job across Horry County Schools and Pee Dee school districts that rarely gets filled.
“We are always looking for bus drivers,” Superintendent Neal Vincent at Florence School District Two Superintendent said.
A search for bus drivers is nothing new for local districts, but with COVID-19 posing new rules on the way to school, districts prepare to hire several substitute drivers.
“We don’t know when a bus driver might call in sick or come to school and get sick, and we would need to have someone in place of that driver to make the kids get home in the afternoon or picked up that morning,” said Linda Hannah, Dillon School District 4 Transportation Supervisor.
Transportation departments may be adjusting bus routes to follow new COVID-19 policies once school returns.
New safety measures include drivers and kids getting temperature checks upon getting on the bus, masks requirements, windows kept down to let air circulate, roof hatches will be kept open, and buses will be wiped down each trip and disinfected twice per day.
The new bus capacity has buses following a 67% maximum capacity. Depending on how many students return on the bus, more drivers may be needed on the job to keep students spaced out.
“We would probably have to delay bringing in the kids a little late,” Hannah said. “We would just have to go back out and get the kids. Once a bus comes in they’d go back out and get the other children and make sure they got here.”
Districts say they have enough drivers to start the school year but will continue to hire and prepare for any situation.
“It’s a team effort here, we are a small community, everybody pitches in so as needed, we will use the teachers who have assisted us in the past years,” Vincent said.
One Horry County Schools parent, Sheri Sexton, said her students will be returning to school next week on the school bus. Riding the bus is one of her second grade daughter’s favorite parts of school.
“The bus driver we had, he was awesome, loving, joyful, and I want them to have that,” Sexton said. “I don’t want them to sit and be cooped up and afraid.”
There are mixed emotions all around sending her daughters back to school after being home for seven months.
“I may cry, they’ll be gone, and I’ll be worrying,” Sexton said. “But, also in the meantime, they get to socialize, see their friends, meet their teachers, see their teachers from last year.”
Transportation services across local districts all have similar guidance in place. School buses will be disinfected twice a day, after every use, and students will load and unload in one direction to avoid contact as much as possible.
“That’s the biggest thing is to keep the children safe and keep the drivers as safe as possible,” Hannah said.