JCPS bus drivers continue working for school district during pandemic

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- As Jefferson County Public Schools prepares to send students back to the classroom, district officials are putting an emphasis on plans for safe transportation.

JCPS said it's working with bus drivers and Teamsters Local 783, the union that supports drivers, to develop a plan that keeps both employees and students safe on buses to and from school.

"We're getting creative as we've ever been with bus routes," JCPS Chief Operations Officer Chris Perkins said.

The district will limit the number of students on each bus to at least 25 students, it said. It will also examine bus routes with single-digit numbers of students on board to try and consolidate some runs.

"What we're doing is looking at those smaller runs to say, 'Hey, there's five kids on this bus. Maybe three of them could be picked up on the tail end of the route, and maybe the other two could be picked up on the front end of a route,'" Perkins said.

The district said it's also looking to see if it can double up on shorter routes to reduce the number of students on each bus.

Minimizing routes, Perkins said, means fewer drivers. It plays to the advantage of the district, which currently is about 150 drivers short.

"Using this hybrid schedule to minimize how many kids are physically in a building in a day will also impact how many kids are on a bus," Perkins said when asked if social distancing on buses would create issues with the district's lack of drivers.

Teamsters Local 783 President John Stovall said the hybrid plan allows transportation to run more efficiently with fewer drivers.

"Staggering it like that, it'll make it easier," he said. "They'll have the drivers to do it, and it should keep them from having a full buses."

Stovall said he's meeting with the district's transportation department to discuss ideas and ensure that the union's drivers will be safe when school returns.

He said the union is committed to ensuring safety.

"As a union, we're going to make sure our drivers and our employees are as safe as humanly possible and hold them accountable for safety and those issues," Stovall said.

JCPS said there will be multiple deep cleans of each bus throughout the day between runs. The district's plan is still being discussed, and JCPS said it will release more details in the following days and weeks.

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