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BCPS bus drivers prepare for start of classes; officials provide tips to parents

DAVIE, FLA. – School bus drivers in Broward County said they’re taking all the necessary steps to make sure they’re prepared to transport students to and from school when classes resume next week.

Fist bumps and excitement surrounded the first day of the 2022-23 school year for more than 1,600 Broward County Public Schools transportation employees.

Among those excited to return to work on Thursday was school bus operator William Harrelson.

“It’s going to be marvelous. It’s going to be greater even this year, than it was last year, so let’s go and make it happen,” he said.

In order for school bus drivers to be ready for the start of classes on Tuesday, they first have to come to their bus depot to receive their routes.

“When they come in, they’re going to get their key, open up their bus, make sure that it’s equipped with what they need,” said Broward County Public Schools Transportation Supervisor Shirley Clark.

“We make sure that the bus is in safe operating condition. We do our pre-checkup, and then, after we do all that, then we get on the road,” said school bus operator Adiel Hernandez.

Hernandez has been working as a bus driver for a few years. He said he loves the job.

“I like the fact that I’m contributing a lot to the community by transporting the students back and forth to school, and I get to play an important role in my community,” he said. “I’m very happy with providing my grain of sand.”

Elvin Clark has been a school bus driver for 19 years. He drives special needs students to and from school.

“The most important thing is that we try and mainstream them in with the regular students so that they don’t feel alienated or left out. They feel as if they’re part of the family,” he said.

Clark is also conducting one of two dry runs.

“The purpose of the dry run is to make sure that there are no hiccups on the first day, make sure everything runs smooth, make sure you don’t miss any stops, make sure you get all your students and get to school in a safe and timely manner,” he said.

Dr. Simone Clowers, assistant director of transportation for BCPS, advised parents to ensure their children are acquainted with their stops.

“We also want the child to know to be there 10 minutes before, stay 10 minutes after. We want them to know the protocols: give us a call if you’re still there and the bus has not arrived,” she said.

Transportation officials also advised to let them know right away if there’s a problem, because their goal is always about the students.

Many of these bus operators said their job is about more than just driving.

“We’re mothers, we’re fathers, we’re counselors, we’re principals, we’re friends who have a listening ear. If you cry, we have a shoulder to lean on. It’s a very rewarding experience,” said Clark.

Alfred Duncan

Alfred Duncan is a senior editor at The South Florida Daily, where he oversees our coverage of politics, misinformation, health and economics. Alfred is a former reporter and editor for BuzzFeed News, National Geographic and USA Today.

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