Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois addressed a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf that asked for a requirement that all frontline transportation and airport employees wear personal protection equipment, or PPEs, to protect themselves and others during the COVID-19 health crisis.
In the letter dated April 30 and co-signed by 88 other congressional Democrats, Rush notes his “deep concern” about employees at transportation hubs and airports nationwide not wearing face masks, gloves and face shields while interacting with the public. This despite recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that people should wear masks and maintain social distancing while in public.
While Rush does not specifically mention school bus drivers, he does refer to mass transportation. In addition to border patrol and Transportation Security Administration officers, he specifically lists airline, airport and Amtrak employees, as well as “those responsible for providing wheelchair or other assistance to passengers.”
“For many of our nation’s transportation workers, social distancing is logistically impossible,” he adds. “Therefore, we request that you require the use of masks, gloves, eyewear, and any other PPE that may be appropriate for our nation’s transportation workers.”
Many school districts nationwide already require their employees who are interacting with students and parents during meal or school supplies delivery to wear PPEs. But usage is not across the board.
School districts and bus companies School Transportation News has spoken too have indicated a wide range of proposed plans for the return of busing students, from mandatory PPE worn by bus drivers and monitors to erecting plexiglass barriers to separate the bus driver compartment from the students.
Still, Rush wrote that a federal directive has become necessary because too many employers are either not allowing their employees to protect themselves at work or are making the use of PPE optional.
Related: NSTA Urges School Bus Drivers Be Classified as COVID-19 Essential Workers
Related: NSTA encourages Senate Co-Sponsors of “Heroes Fund” to include School Bus Drivers in Proposal
Related: Indiana School Bus Drivers Read to Students During COVID-19 School Closures