WESTON, Fla. – Parents were concerned for the safety of their kids after a photo surfaced of a Broward County Public Schools bus that was crowded with high school students in Weston.
Joel Gandara is among the parents who were outraged. His 14-year-old son, a student at Cypress Bay High School in Weston, was on the bus and shared a picture with him. Some students were sitting on the floor.
Gandara said this is not just unacceptable as more children are being infected during the coronavirus pandemic’s Delta variant surge of COVID cases, but it’s just unsafe for passengers in any vehicle.
“The buses are packed three to a row, kids sitting in the middle of the aisles, totally unsafe,” Gandara said, adding, “This is week three, and he says this is how it’s been every day.”
Gandara said BCPS needs to do better. BCPS released a statement on Thursday afternoon saying the school bus underwent a route adjustment that went into effect on Thursday morning, a separate bus is assisting with the route and the student transportation department staff is still adjusting ridership counts.
“A number of the buses have been overcrowded,” said Dan Reynolds, of the Federation of Public Employees, the union that represents school bus drivers in Broward. “It’s very difficult for a driver to enforce the wearing of masks, especially with elementary kids.”
According to BCPS, the students had the protection of a face mask mandate and thorough daily cleaning and disinfecting of the school buses. Another challenge BCPS is facing is the nationwide school bus driver shortage. The district is still trying to recruit drivers to fill vacancies.
“It’s pay issues and safety issues,” Reynolds said. “The question of getting on a bus with 40 kids behind you when there’s an epidemic going on, it’s scary.”
According to BCPS data, 418 students, including 3 from Cypress Bay High, and 229 employees, including 3 from Cypress Bay High, have tested positive for the coronavirus since 2021-22 classes started on Aug. 18.