Day in the life of a bus driver during COVID-19

Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 10:02 PM EDT
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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Transportation has always been a top need for school students, but with COVID-19, bus drivers are now taking on an even bigger load.

“It’s been crazy,” said bus driver, Paul Black. “We’ve been busy!”

Black has been a bus driver for Kanawha County Schools for more than 10years. He and his bus aide, Fanny Mullins, are taking on more than your typical pick-up and drop off.

“(People) don’t realize the hours. We might not work all those hours, but you have to be available all those hours,” Black said.

After their daily morning and afternoon runs, bus drivers get a short break before beginning to pass out meals to students who aren’t physically in the classroom. Some drivers also take buses to certain areas to provide a hotspot for students working from home.

“We got one (driver) sitting at Hoover right now, and he’ll sit there until it’s time for him to deliver lunches, then he’ll go back and stay until it’s time for him to do his run."

“During that period of March through May, (drivers) weren’t required to be here,” Brette Fraley, director of transportation for Kanawha County schools, told WSAZ. “That was a stay-at-home order, and we couldn’t make them come. They came out on their own.”

Fraley said the county has delivered nearly 2 million meals since the pandemic began.

“(Drivers) really adapted to it, while it doesn’t matter which ball we threw at them,” he said. “We have a lot of our drivers at points that we’re doing one run for Elkview one day and Sissonville the next.”

Fraley also said all of the buses are getting an upgraded WiFi system that will allow the hotspots from buses to reach further so people can social distance even more.

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