Disclosure: I am a contractor for Pinellas County School district and provide paid workshops to any department of Pinellas County schools—teachers, staff, anyone who is not a student. I am not paid to share this blog; this is my own perspective. Today for the 1st time in my dietetics career, I presented a healthy lifestyle workshop to public school bus drivers. Obviously, we know they sit for most of the work day. I was expecting that and prepared to discuss that. I have to be honest though…. I have a new appreciation for this job and thought about them the rest of the day leading to this blog. Here are a few notes I will remember and any of us should remember—in no particular order. I would love to know if your district is similar—in any state.
1. Public school drivers are short-staffed. They have the high school students first then the middle then the elementary schools. Most get up at 3a.m. and their first pick-up is 5:15 a.m. until 10 a.m.
2. There are no potty stops for the drivers between 4:45 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
3. They eat and drink light in the morning so they don’t have to use the potty. They know they are dehydrated.
4. Obviously there is a midday break between 10:30 a.m. and 1p.m. when the first schools are ready for pick up.
5. Some drivers go home to nap and eat lunch during that time. Some go to the bus headquarter break room to eat the lunch they packed or purchase in the cafeteria like any work place.
6. Most drivers are on the road again from 1p-5:30p.
7. Here’s what I think about. The noise level. We all work in our environment. When kids are yelling on a bus—expected. Kids are loud. When they yell at the driver, the focus of the driver is to drive and make sure the kids are safe. Discipline? If it was possible on the bus. Safety + timing = priority.
8. Bus drivers love kids, of course. I met some who have raised their children and foster children. The difference some say after being a driver for 20+ years? The respect the kids have for adults now. The language they have for each other and toward the drivers.
9. That right there is why there is a shortage of drivers. Stressful job? I think about working and then having people yelling and swearing at me while I work. Think about it.
10. School bus drivers are really trying to take charge of their health. Most are packing fruit, vegetables, cheese sticks, etc. and doing the best they can for their health during the work day.
Thank a public school bus driver when you see one if you have the chance, but hold-off from giving them a water bottle