Metro school employees say they aren’t being paid if classes go virtual because of COVID-19

SOUTH FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — The coronavirus has made virtual learning a challenge for everyone. But for bus drivers and other hourly employees in Fulton County, it means no paycheck.

Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes spoke with four bus drivers Wednesday who said even though they’re worried about paying rent and feeding their families, they can’t afford to speak on camera and lose their jobs.

So she took their concerns to someone who advocates for all school employees in metro Atlanta: the Georgia Federation of Teachers.

“If we want bus drivers and custodians and cafeteria workers to stay, we need to treat them right,” said Verdaillia Turner with the Georgia Federation of Teachers.

Turner said the Fulton County School has the money to pay hourly employees like bus drivers, even on days when students are learning remotely.

She said to simply deny them pay for a virus they can’t control is inhumane.


Other school districts like Atlanta Public Schools are paying their bus drivers and other employees this week as children learn from home.

Fulton County was paying employees during the pandemic last year, but this year it’s no work, no pay.

District administrators sent Fernandes a statement, saying:

“We understand their concerns about not being paid and where we’ve been able to find alternative work assignments, we have done so. For example, even though we’re in remote learning this week, we’re bringing bus drivers in on Friday to do training and other duties to mitigate the days they are not working.”

Fulton County Schools also gave those employees pay raises this year and $1,200 bonus.

But bus drivers who are living check to check, especially those who are single moms, told Fernandes that losing a week’s pay is still a huge problem.

“They’re doing jobs that many people would not, so if anything, they need a raise on top of getting paid. As long as schools are shut down, still pay them. That’s the right thing to do,” Turner said.