SPOKANE, Wash. - 18 bus drivers from Spokane Public Schools have tested positive for COVID-19 with an additional 18 exposed and in quarantine.
KHQ spoke with two mothers who both wanted to remain anonymous, but they said they feel like COVID guidelines aren't always followed on school buses and don't think the Durham staff considered safety.
One mother who has two kids that ride the bus to SPS schools, says while their bus driver is not in quarantine, their bus is now filled with students from other buses.
"From what we were told at the beginning of the year, it just goes against all the safety procedures that were going to be put in place, that helped me feel safe as a parent that I was making the right choice for my kids to take the bus," the mother said.
Another mother reached out to KHQ via email and said she received a call from contact tracers saying her son, a fourth-grader at Hamblen, had been exposed to COVID-19 on his school bus. He's now at home until March 5th, which she says is making an already difficult year, even tougher.
She also says social distancing recommendations are being ignored. She said in her email to us, "They want us to believe that every safety precaution is being implemented in our schools and that our students are safe. How do I believe that?"
The other mother echoes that sentiment.
"They had no plan, and they just threw all these other kids on this bus and all the safety went out the window."
SPS released another statement at 5:00pm. There response is outlined below:
One of our most important duties as a school district is to provide students and staff with a learning environment that is safe and secure. This includes buses and bus loading areas. The district has learned that our contract provider for bus transportation, Durham School Services, has experienced a total of 19 positive COVID-19 cases among staff members, as of today. These numbers include drivers and other personnel.
We are aware that there have been reports that Durham hasn't been following all health and safety protocols. However, we are working closely with Durham to make sure all staff and students are safe when riding Durham buses.
Durham has consistently informed the district and SRHD that the reported cases originated outside of the workplace. Since Durham is an SPS contractor and they are not our employees, SRHD is leading the contact tracing effort with the company and working to ensure all personnel are following health and safety protocols.
At this time, there are no indications that transmission occurred on school buses. We understand and share the concerns of Spokane Public Schools families and staff and are working alongside the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) to determine any impacts to our district.
We will continue monitoring this closely, in accordance with our COVID safety protocols. Below is an outline of the protocols in place for all SPS bus riders.
- Health checks must be completed before students board the bus.
- Face coverings must be worn riding the bus and at the bus stop.
- Windows will be kept open as much as possible to increase air flow.
- Buses are thoroughly cleaned before the first run of the day, mid-day, and prior to activity runs with approved disinfectants that are safe for children.
- There is a 6 feet buffer between driver and students.
- Buses are not filled to capacity, buses with capacity for 71 students have no more than 40 students per bus.
The people who transport our students to and from school are an important part of our work. We want to ensure everyone who is in contact with SPS students feels safe and heard when there are health and safety issues or concerns.
SRHD is continuing to investigate this situation – as are we – and we will provide updates to SPS families and staff as they become available.
SPOKANE, Wash. - Eighteen bus drivers from Spokane Public Schools are positive for COVID-19 with an additional 18 exposed.
Durham Bus Services said they are contracting substitute bus drivers to fill in.
Durham is working with SPS to make as minimal of an impact as possible on students.
KHQ has reached out to Spokane Public Schools about how this is impacting them.
They sent us this statement:
“Durham School Services has informed the district of the positive COVID-19 cases among their Spokane staff members, and reported that these cases originated outside of the workplace. At this time, there are no indications that transmission occurred on school buses. SPS is continuing to work with the Spokane Regional Health District on contact tracing within our district and will provide updates to SPS families as soon as they become available.”
It is not yet clear how the bus drivers got COVID-19.