'I feel unsafe': OPS bus driver raises concerns on mask-wearing

Driver asked for anonymity
Posted at 6:56 PM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 20:02:00-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — A school bus driver for Omaha Public Schools is raising concerns after continuously noticing students not wearing masks.

After filing multiple write-ups, the driver says they're not seeing many changes, and are now fearing for their safety.

Children under 16-years-old are still not eligible to get vaccinated and the University of Nebraska Medical Center recently did a study with OPS that showed infection rates are nearly six times higher for students than was previously being reported.

It's these statistics that made one OPS bus driver speak up after noticing many students not complying with mask-wearing rules, even after writing students up.

The bus driver wanted to raise their concerns anonymously to avoid backlash.

"The instructions with regards to masks is pretty straightforward. Just write [students] up, don't make a fight out of it cause you want to get the kids to school and then the school will handle it," the driver said.

But according to the bus driver, schools aren't disciplining children that are written up.

"It's been inconsistent," they said.

The bus driver has filed over 20 complaints citing improper mask-wearing. Write-ups include observing students with masks down and disregarding instructions to put masks on before boarding.

The bus driver fears not only for their safety but the students as well.

"It's an invisible enemy. It's a lot different than what we've ever had to deal with," they said.

The concerns are valid as UNMC infectious disease expert Dr. John Lowe explains how the virus travels in a confined space.

"You can imagine if there's someone infected in that scenario, the risk for everyone grows over time because the virus that's in the air continues to accumulate," Dr. Lowe said.

We reached out to OPS for comment. They did not respond to the bus driver's concerns specifically but said:

"Throughout the school year, Omaha Public Schools has been a local and national leader in health and safety efforts for the protection of students, staff and families. We have clearly communicated protocols and expectations that extend to transportation to and from school each day."

The bus driver said most of their co-workers don't feel that enough disciplinary action is being taken on students who don't follow the rules. And although the situation has gotten a bit better, he wishes for more communication and stricter enforcement from the schools.

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