Bus Drivers Plan for New Challenges Preparing for School
When Fulton County Schools (FCS) bus drivers and transportation assistants return to work this year, they will be prepared for an extensive list of guidelines to keep themselves and their precious passengers safe and healthy during the COVID -19 pandemic. The transportation workers will be trained on the new guidelines from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH), Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE), and FCS.
The demanding checklist of items will require 90 hours of training. The list includes cross-training for all General Education and Special Needs drivers, eleven scored driving skills, special needs hands-on training, three zone meetings- one each week of pre-planning and comprehensive, newly-developed virtual video training meetings.
In addition, the FCS Transportation Department has produced thirteen new training videos on COVID-19, which include: loading and unloading students in a pandemic, COVID-19 protocols, and driving skills, to name just a few. Each driver and transportation assistant must also complete the GaDOE Safety Renewal program.
Specifically, FCS transportation workers are learning procedures to minimize exposure to COVID-19, how to properly wear/use PPE, guidelines for transporting the medically fragile, prohibiting students from sharing items on the bus, managing traffic flow and much more.
"When students step on an FCS bus in the future, things will look very different," said Vickie Cross, Executive Director of Transportation. "Bus drivers and transportation assistants will be wearing a mask and, possibly a face shield. Students are used to seeing a smile, but just know, the smile is behind the mask."
With three weeks of pre-planning, the drivers will be thoroughly trained before the first student boards the bus. "Our department is here to provide the training, tools and leadership needed during these unprecedented times," Cross said. "We have taken every step recommended to keep our passengers as safe as possible. Transportation is here to serve the students of FCS."
FCS hosts an annual recognition program called Fulton's Finest for transportation workers with accomplishments like perfect attendance.
In the 2019-2020 school year, transportation workers participated in the Fulton's Finest Driver/Monitor recognition program. "However, CDC guidelines recommend that such programs are not ideal during these unprecedented times," Cross said. "It places undue pressure on our employees."
The Fulton's Finest program, which included a recognition luncheon for the drivers, will not take place for the 2020-2021 school year. However, employees who were Fulton's Finest in the most recent school year, were greeted with their names on banners in front of the North and South transportation lots when they reported to work August 19. "This year, since we could not have the luncheon, we will have 16 feet of recognition at each transportation lot," Cross said. "One banner has the Fulton's Finest logo and the other banner has the year and all Fulton's Finest names from the North and South."
These transportation workers, Fulton's Finest, are very important to students. "The front door of any school is painted yellow," Cross said. "We are the first face of Fulton County Schools every morning and the last every evening. We provide the safest mode of transportation to every FCS student, and we deliver students in a frame of mind ready to learn. Transportation is looking forward to seeing our students and helping to keep them safe."