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reaching out to all 260 staff mem- bers to touch base with them and ask how they are doing, if they need anything, and to keep them updated on new information.” Hatfield said she sends kudos to staff each Monday along with a list of current events. She also asks staff to send in photos showing how they are spending their quarantine at home. Other ideas include an online mag- azine and developing the capability for drivers to have virtual meetings with their supervisors. “The supervi- sors and I make sure everyone gets a birthday card in the mail,” she added.


A Retention Strategy The stay-at-home mandates


brought on by the coronavirus also re- focused the spotlight on the bus driver shortage that has plagued school districts nationwide in recent years. Transportation officials speculat- ed that the situation could go either


way but agreed that not paying idle bus drivers could only worsen the problem. That could have been the incentive for school districts to con- tinue to pay bus drivers. “Like everybody nationwide we


are short on drivers, but with so many people out of work that might change,” Moore commented Through mid-May, nearly 36 mil-


lion people were out of work. That had the potential to translate to more available bus drivers. Maybe. “Not paying drivers would be dev-


astating because most bus drivers live paycheck to paycheck,” Moore observed. “But more grocery store chains in Georgia are hiring and looking for tons of people. Amazon and FedEx are looking to hire. If we ever stop taking care of our folks, the odds are they’d have to find other employment and the odds of bring- ing them back would be pretty slim.” Karam echoed Moore’s warning.


“Given the state that we’re already


in with the driver shortage across the country, not paying the transportation staff while they are ordered to stay home will force a lot of them to look for employment elsewhere,” Karam said. “That will exacerbate the driver short- age problem that was already there.” Karam compared the COVID-19


situation to the Apollo 13 mission that went awry but was safely guided back to Earth, after some adjustments made on the run. “Everything changed, the mis-


sion changed, lives were on the line and they had to make changes which is what we’ve all been doing. Like Apollo 13 we’ll get through this and get back to normalcy whatever that will be. Apollo 13 had to make changes to find the correct angle to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere. That is where we are now, trying to find the correct angle to re-enter and get back to normal,” Karam said. ●


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