Bus Drivers: The Heroes that Keep Arlington Moving

Carrie Finn, Staff Reporter

The pandemic has caused new safety measures to be put into place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on buses. Aside from maintaining social distance and practicing mask wearing, bus drivers have had to implement new methods to provide better ventilation and decontaminate the buses. 

“We have to leave all the windows cracked for better ventilation and we have a cleaning solution called TruShot which is a cleaning agent the schools use. We park our buses in the morning and we disinfect with that spray and let it sit so it can decontaminate any viruses that could be on the surfaces, and then we do it again in the evening,” bus driver Kyndra Fenwick said. 

Fenwick is also a cluster leader of bus drivers and safety administrators in Arlington. She is one of the many people who keep the wheels of the schools turning. Her responsibilities are widespread, including supervising 30 drivers, handling their payroll, addressing safety issues and responding to any accidents on the roads. 

During the 2020-2021 school year, bus drivers helped to distribute lunches, assist custodians and answer phone calls at schools and administrative offices. Their duties also included taking temperatures and checking people in at the transportation headquarters.

Bus drivers encounter many issues on a day to day basis, student behavior being the largest.

“Oftentimes we have routes where there’s one kid or a group of kids that cause disciplinary action. If we’re not supported by the schools and if the administrators don’t help us as far as suspending them or taking them off the bus for a couple of days, it’s hard for us to get a hold of the problem,” Fenwick said.

Prior to changes in mask policy, these behavior issues often stemmed from a reluctance to wear masks. 

“We [had] a lot of problems with students who don’t really want to wear their masks. High schoolers and middle schoolers don’t want to wear their masks,” bus driver Alphonso Medley said.

Drivers also run into problems during inclement weather. Snow, rain and sleet can make the roads harder to drive on and can affect traffic patterns. 

“If there is any type of issue it’s mainly the traffic. It will slow us down and in those cases we communicate with our dispatchers and with the schools and let them know we’ll be late,” Fenwick said.

Through a year of online school and the transition to in-person learning, bus drivers have proven to be vital to our school system. Their tireless and important work keeps our schools running smoothly.