BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Bus drivers for Boston Public Schools held a rally in Dorchester Tuesday to demand regular, in-yard COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, and trained monitors on every bus.
The bus drivers marched outside the Transdev headquarters, which is the public transportation company used by the school district.
“While the pandemic continues to infect our families and communities at high rates, it is an OUTRAGE that political misleaders are forcing us — under threat of termination — to reopen BPS and load thousands of more students onto our busses in the winter without offering us frontline school workers regular COVID-19 Testing and Vaccinations at the yards, a guaranteed trained monitor, and other Emergency Safety Operating Procedures per agreements,” the union wrote on their website.
The drivers accuse BPS and Transdev of covering up a surge in cases in bus yards.
Steven Kirschbaum, Vice President of the Boston School Bus Driver’s Union said there were eight COVID-19 cases in the last week at the biggest bus yard, Readville. He also said BPS and Transdev have not been transparent about Covid-19 cases.
“Our executive board member, she got a call from her monitor — not from the company; not from Boston Public Schools — and her monitor said ‘I tested positive for COVID.’ That’s the monitor on the bus. She was told over at the Lee School. They quarantined an entire classroom,” he said.
In a statement however, BPS said “TransDev notifies all employees at the yard of positive COVID-19 tests and individually informs individuals who have been identified as close contacts (following contact tracing performed by our local public health body, the Boston Public Health Commission).”
The school district said that “BPS reports a weekly update on confirmed positive cases for students and staff who have accessed schools for in-person teaching and learning. Bus drivers do not fit into this category because they are not BPS employees and do not access our school buildings."
BPS and Transdev said that weekly COVID-19 testing for bus drivers and bus monitors has been provided at a “centralized location.”
“Last week, BPS notified bus drivers about ways they can receive a vaccine and signed workers up for vaccination appointments on the spot,” the statement said. “We are excited that vaccinations are being distributed and will continue to prioritize keeping staff informed about the district’s vaccine rollout to further promote the health and safety of our workforce.”
Students in pre-kindergarten through grade 3 were allowed back in the classroom for in-person learning last week. Grades 4-8 will be allowed to return to the classroom March 15, and grades 9-12 will be allowed to return the week of March 29.
During a press conference Tuesday, Mayor Marty Walsh gave a shout out to school bus drivers. He said “people don’t realize how difficult their job is.”
“Their on-time performance rate in the last two weeks I think has been at like 97%,” Walsh said.
WBZ NewsRadio's James Rojas (@JamesRojasWBZ) reports