LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - What happens to bus drivers when students don’t need a ride to school?
JCPS voted Tuesday night to start school off with NTI for the first six weeks, so where does that leave nearly 1,000 drivers?
“They just want to know they’re going to go back to work, are they going to get paid, are they going to have job, and it’s safe to say that all those answers are yes,” John Stovall, President of Local Teamsters 783 said.
Unable to get behind the wheel, drivers might have to fill other roles for at least six weeks while kids will be learning from home. What those roles are exactly, that’s what Stovall is trying to nail down with JCPS.
“If it’s cutting grass or if it’s helping clean and sanitize the school or school buses, or delivering food, some may be more suited the others are,” Stovall said. “But the uncertainly is, if any employees aren’t able to do that, what happens to them then? So, that’s those are the kind of things we’re trying to work out now.”
Stovall said with the union’s contract and federal aid, drivers were able to get through the end of the last school year.
JCPS had some employees help hand out Chromebooks and lunches to students and a district spokeswoman said they don’t expect any furloughs this year either.
“They can’t afford to lose 800 bus drivers,” Stovall said. “You can’t find that many people on the street to drive a school bus and have all qualifications we have. So, they’re going to work with us to ensure that and you know, it’s their employees too so I’m sure they want to do right by them.”
If and when in person classes kick back in, the next hurdle is how to keep drivers safe from infection. Stovall said about 30 percent of his drivers are 55 and older, making them particularly vulnerable.
“We know they’re not going to be able to put 50 or 60 kids on the bus, because of the six-foot spacing” Stovall said. “So, you’re talking probably 25 to 30 at the most on that bus. Now, is it going to be the drivers or the school district going to have somebody, stop, you know, make sure if the kid has hand sanitizer?”
JCPS said they will have more details to share with their employees soon.