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school, Mayo said Gloucester Public Schools finds itself in the common yet unenviable spot of needing more drivers for some of the buses the district could be using. At this point, he said he is not looking at purchas-


ing any more buses. Mayo’s concern over the next two years is the kind of math in which additions caused by COVID-19 equal red ink. “If it’s an addition to the fleet, that’s an addition to the fuel budget, that’s an addition to insurance, repair and maintenance. All those budget lines are going to be affected going forward,” he said. “As you’re adding more buses to the fleet, we’re looking at adding more drivers, and we’ve been talking about a driver shortage for years. We’re hiring more monitors for every bus on the recommendation of the [state] Depart- ment of Education. We can hire them under a federal grant this year, but will those people stay with us?” Mayo said training new drivers isn’t simply about hiring more drivers. “A lot of drivers across the U.S. are in the older demographic, and there’s great fear about driving a school bus with 25 kids during a pandemic,” Mayo said. “Your training line is going to have to come


up because now you’ve got to train drivers to operate in a pandemic, too. So they’re trained to drive with a face shield, know how to disinfect and sanitize the bus after a run, and look for signs and symptoms of students on the bus.” Jimenez suggested that transportation departments


could benefit from brainstorming creative revenue- generating strategies as well pursuing more traditional avenues. “It’s looking for opportunities to offset operational costs.


We operate in two cities, so maybe we offer some trans- portation services to them and charge them or try to gain revenue by doing field trips for other groups,” he said. “Another step we can take as directors is educating local or state officials on the importance of the yellow bus.” ●


Find related COVID-19 web resources on stnonline.com/safety-resources/ and at www.yellowbuses.org/news-and-resources/ covid-19-resources.


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