LANSDALE, Pa. — The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) has written to U.S. Senate co-sponsors of the “Heroes Fund” to request the 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 Sen. Charles Schumer (NY), Sen. Gary Peters (MI), Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH), Sen. Patty Murray (WA), Sen. Robert Casey (PA), and Sen. Tom Udall (NM), the association said in a news release.
“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,” Macysyn said. “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 schoolchildren, once this health crisis subsides.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the nation’s education system in unprecedented ways. Many schools have shuttered their doors until the next academic year, while others are closed indefinitely.
In an effort to support their communities and retain 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 received if they were in school.
For many drivers, this means they are subjecting themselves to an increased risk of exposure to the coronavirus and contracting COVID-19 as they provide critical outreach to hard-hit communities.
NSTA advises that although the previously mentioned efforts place drivers on the front line temporarily, 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 should be folded into the fourth installment of COVID-19 federal stimulus legislation, according to NSTA.
Additionally, NSTA identified and thanked essential workers such as school bus drivers and monitors by joining the U.S. House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure’s tweetstorm #ToThoseWhoKeepUsMoving on Tuesday. NSTA and its members also thanked school bus drivers on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.