Opening Schools Spreads The Virus (Especially Considering What School Bus Drivers Are Saying)

The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System opened its school buildings to younger elementary and EC students in the past couple of weeks.

Data more than proves that the virus is being spread at school. From the Winston-Salem Journal just today:

Here in Forsyth County, the return of students and staff has resulted in multiple positive cases, which led to a high number of teachers in quarantine. According to its COVID-19 dashboard, there are 17 confirmed cases involving students, with 13 of them among high school students. These students are not in school buildings but are practicing sports. That data was posted on the dashboard on Friday afternoon.

There are also 30 confirmed cases involving staff members at the schools, and 127 staff members in quarantine. Of the 127 in quarantine, 86 work in elementary schools. 

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For many of those students who have returned to school, the mode of transportation is a school bus to and from campus. But when school bus drivers are not given enough to protect them from possible exposure to a virus in a school bus during the colder months from asymptomatic individuals, then that indicates just how easy it may be for more transmission to occur in schools.

Again from today’s Winston-Salem Journal:

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A group of school-bus drivers wants school officials to put more safety measures on their buses to protect them from COVID-19.

Thirty-one drivers met recently at Bolton Park to discuss their concerns about their safety and health amid the coronavirus pandemic. A week earlier, 50 drivers met at Bolton Park to talk about similar issues.

Many drivers said they participated in a Zoom meeting on Nov. 6 with several school administrators, but those officials didn’t adequately answer their questions about the matter.

Students, parents, teachers and school administrators must consider the virus as a serious health risk, said Paul Dunlap of Winston-Salem, a school-bus driver for nearly 19 years.

“I don’t know why some people think that this is a joke,” Dunlap said. “This isn’t a joke.” 

The district has 293 school-bus drivers and 58 openings for drivers, said Brent Campbell, a spokesman for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

Over 15% of the needed positions for school bus drivers are unfilled. And if what other school systems are showing, that number will increase.

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We need a better plan.

And we need funding to put that plan into place.