The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) has written to Senate Co-Sponsors of the “Heroes Fund” to request the specific inclusion of school bus drivers – as essential workers in the $25,000 Hazard Pay Proposal – recently unveiled on Capitol Hill. The letter, authored by NSTA Executive Director, Curt Macysyn, was addressed to Senators Charles Schumer (NY), Gary Peters (MI), Sherrod Brown (OH), Patty Murray (WA), Robert Casey (PA), and Tom Udall (NM).
“Even though schools may be closed, school bus drivers have answered the call to deliver essential nutrition programs to students who would have normally received them, if they remained in the classroom. Unlike many other professions, school bus drivers do not have the capacity to work from home, so they remain on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. And most of these committed professionals will faithfully return to their vital role of transporting school children, once this health crisis subsides,” Macysyn emphasized.
Recently, COVID-19 virus presented the country with unprecedented challenges for the educational system. Many schools have shuttered their doors until the next academic year, while others are closed indefinitely.
In an effort to support communities and maintain trained and experienced drivers, school bus contractors have worked with school districts to deliver food and supplies to students. Many parents are relying on these drivers to deliver meals that the students would have otherwise received if they were in school. For many drivers, this means they are subjecting themselves to an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19, as they provide critical outreach to hard hit communities.
NSTA advises that while the above mentioned efforts place drivers in the front line for the interim, they are highly necessary. When school resumes, however, school bus contractors will likely need incentives to recruit and retain drivers for highly exposed positions on buses with as many as 72-passengers. Many individuals may not want to risk that exposure, and others willing to expose themselves to the risks involved, should be rewarded.
Senate Democrats continue to rally support for the Heroes Fund, and several have indicated that this provision be placed should be folded into the fourth installment of COVID-19 federal stimulus legislation.
Additionally, an effort to identify and thank essential workers, such as school bus drivers and monitors, NSTA is joining the U.S. House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructures tweetstorm #ToThoseWhoKeepUsMoving on April 21, 2020. NSTA and its members took time to thank school bus drivers, on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Participants were encouraged to post to social media using the hashtag at 1:00 pm (ET).
The National School Transportation Association has been the voice of private school bus contractors, manufacturers and suppliers since 1964. The association provides school transportation professionals with the tools and resources they need to make school buses safe, affordable, and efficient nationwide.