Fulton school bus drivers required, students strongly encouraged to wear masks

Bus drivers concerned about starting new school year amid COVID-19 pandemic

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Back to school is an issue that’s front and center for parents throughout north Georgia. One of the big issues is safety on school buses.

Fulton County school leaders laid out their plan for buses and drivers Monday morning. If parents choose the face-to-face option for their children, many will rely on the bus to get them to school.

Channel 2′s Mike Petchenik spoke with a Fulton school bus driver, who shared her concerns about the plan. She asked not to be identified over her fears for speaking up.

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“I really feel like we should start back virtually,” she said. “The main concern is that we are going back in August and that’s the hottest month for us as drivers because we don’t have any air conditioning on those buses.”

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The district is requiring drivers to wear masks on board but only strongly suggesting that students wear them.

“Which is going to be impossible to enforce,” the driver said. She told Petchenik that her normal route has 50-60 students board and worries that won’t allow for social distancing.

“With this virus, I just don’t think that’s safe,” she said.

Fulton County Schools gave a virtual briefing Monday about what buses will look like in this pandemic. Drivers will disinfect buses before and after routes. They’ll also start the school year off with managed seating.

“Our little ones always sit up front. Then the other students as they board, the driver will ask them to head to the back of the bus,” Fulton County Schools transportation director Vickie Cross said. “That way it’s keeping as much distance and meeting as much as possible by doing that.”

The district plans to move to assigned seating at some point during the first semester and require students to remain in their assigned seats. They say that will help them with contact tracing should someone become infected.