Making a Difference: Bus drivers prepared to play a major role in unpredictable school year

FAYETTE COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – For our weekly Making a Difference Monday segment, we have been honoring local businesses who have gone above and beyond to keep the community safe, but this week, we are shifting our focus to a group of unsung heroes who will play a major role during this school year whatever that might look this.

This week is all about the Fayette County bus operators who not only will be implementing new protocols this but have spent their summers helping students, teachers and administrators in whatever capacity they could. 

“When we went out in March, bus drivers were calling me, ‘Hey, Bryan. What do we need to do? We need to take care of our kids,'” Director of Transportation Bryan Parsons said. “Whether it’s taking them supplies or taking them food or whatever, it’s just phenomenal how our bus operators operate.” 

Kim McClung is one of those bus operators but not only did she step up to deliver food in the beginning but even when Fayette County started doing feeding sites, she and others would still run their routes for the families who couldn’t make it. 

“I wanted to do that,” she said. “I wanted to help. I know my own kids, and I wanted to do what I could do for them.”

Now those same bus drivers will be the first face some children will see in this new normal. 

“They’re going to look at the bus driver and he’s either going to have a face mask or a face shield on and that’s going to be a different thing for them,” Parsons said. “The students will be required to wear a face mask before they enter the bus. If they don’t have one, one will be provided to them by the bus operator. They’ll come onto the bus. They’ll go all the way to the back and they’ll have seats. There will be assigned seats for all students grades K-12.” 

Parsons says what he has continued to drive home this year is cleanliness. And not only will drivers have to thoroughly clean their buses, they will also have to check using new technology. 

Director of Operations Tim Payton demonstrated a new piece of tech where operators will be able to swab the seats to see the germs that are present on the seat.

“The disinfectant that we’re gonna use is long-term,” Payton said. “We’re going to be able to just wipe down seats, wipe down those high touch areas after the morning run, after the evening run and then be ready to go.” 

So as bus operators like McClung prepare for the most unpredictable year, they stand ready whether they will be delivering students, delivering meals or simply delivering enthusiasm as they know that first interaction will set the tone. 

“I mean, I can’t wait, and I certainly hope everything runs on schedule to where we can get back. Of course we’ll be on a modified schedule, but we will be seeing our kids again,” McClung said.  

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Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.