SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - As some Savannah-Chatham County Public School students plan to head back to the classroom next week for hybrid learning, they may have some trouble getting there.
Dozens of district bus drivers and monitors are threatening to not return to work unless the school board listens to their demands.
“If they don’t move, we don’t move! If they don’t move, we don’t move!”
Some Savannah-Chatham bus drivers and monitors say they won’t be on the road next week if something doesn’t change.
Bus driver Kendrick Banks says they want a meeting with the school board to discuss getting proper PPE, cleaning supplies, and more.
“The drivers that are here love our jobs. All we want to do is be treated with respect,” Banks said.
He’s been with the district for six years and says it’s not safe for them to return to schools.
“We don’t feel like they’ve done all that they can to protect the drivers, saying they put us in situations where we’ve had to figure some things out for ourselves,” Banks said.
Situations like unknowingly being exposed to COVID-19. Banks says many drivers have had to quarantine after exposure, and that the district failed to tell them when they came in contact with people who have tested positive.
The school district released a statement to WTOC about their concerns, it says in part, “SCCPSS wants our entire workforce to feel safe coming to work whether that’s in the classroom on a bus or at one of our other facilities.”
School officials also say masks and social distancing are required on buses and they’ve provided drivers with cleaning supplies and more.
“This isn’t about the drivers and monitors being selfish. We care about the community. We care about the kids. We care about the teachers, but we really want to somebody to start caring about us,” Banks said.
The bus drivers and monitors are requesting a meeting with the school board and want a response by Tuesday, Feb. 16.
You can read SCCPSS’s full statement below:
“SCCPSS is committed to ensuring COVID-19 mitigation strategies are in place and followed in our learning spaces, workspaces, support facilities and on school buses. The District appreciates the tremendous contributions our staff make daily to support a safe and cleanly work environment. Many families rely on transportation to get to school and home again. The transportation department is a key functional area of District operations. To that end, we have implemented several safety protocols and mitigation strategies that all employees are expected to follow. As more students return to the classroom in our next phase of our In-Person Hybrid learning, we will expect students to follow established safety protocols also.
Two critical components of our work to mitigate transmission of the virus includes social distancing and the wearing of masks. Social distancing on the school bus is required which will result in lower capacity levels on school buses. Masks are required of all riders - drivers and passengers.
Our staff seeks to maintain the highest standard of cleanliness on our buses. The following sanitization protocols are in place:
• Operators are provided with cleaning agents and have been trained on their use.
• Buses are hydrostatically cleaned after each route.
• Hand sanitizer dispensers are installed on all school buses.
SCCPSS wants our entire workforce to feel safe coming to work – whether that’s in the classroom, on a bus or at one of our other facilities. As always, we welcome our transportation workers, or any employee to share their experiences with the leadership team in support of our commitment to continuous improvement and the highest level of safety.”