Dozens of school bus drivers and transportation staff for Boston Public Schools (BPS) held a rally on Tuesday to demand more COVID-related safety measures, in-yard vaccinations and testing, and restoration of full driver pay and benefits as Massachusetts schools reopen.
The rally was held outside of the Transdev headquarters in Dorchester, according to a document posted on the Boston School Bus Drivers’ Union website. Transdev reportedly oversees BPS bus yards and school buses.
“While the pandemic continues to infect our families and communities at high rates, it is an outrage that political misleaders are forcing us — under threat of termination — to reopen BPS and load thousands of more students onto our buses in the winter without offering us frontline school workers regular COVID-19 testing and vaccinations at the yards, a guaranteed trained monitor, and other emergency safety operating procedures per agreements,” the union wrote in a statement posted to its website.
The union reported in the document that approximately 40 BPS transportation staff members have contracted COVID-19 since schools reopened on Oct. 1, and that seven positive COVID cases have occurred within the last two weeks.
On Tuesday, BPS and Transdev released a joint statement, obtained by WBZ, detailing their commitment to ensuring the safety of its students and employees with increased cleaning and sanitation efforts, social distancing on buses, and weekly COVID testing for staff members at a “centralized location.”
“The health and safety of our employees, passengers, and the communities we serve remain the highest priority of the Boston Public Schools and Transdev. We are extremely proud of our employees and what they have been doing to ensure essential services for our region,” their statement read.
BPS also said that it is handing out information about vaccinations and that drivers and monitors are being reminded about virtual information sessions, both in English and Haitian Creole, about how to book an appointment when K-12 workers (including school bus drivers) become eligible for a vaccine on Thursday.
“Last week, we booked drivers on the spot for vaccines at Tufts Medical Center,” BPS and Transdev said in their statement. “BPS will communicate additional details about vaccinations this week, as we plan to open up clinics for members of the BPS working community.”
BPS began phasing in students, who were considered high priority (students with disabilities in substantially separate classrooms and students with disabilities in inclusion classrooms with high needs), for in-person learning on Feb. 1, according to the district’s website. Students in K-3 were allowed back on March 1, while students in grades 4-12 are expected to make their return to the classroom within the next two weeks, according to BPS.