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Fairfax school buses still on the road without students to keep skills and equipment sharp

WJLA – Washington D.C. logo WJLA – Washington D.C. 6 days ago Timothy Barber
a person standing in front of a bus © Provided by WJLA – Washington D.C.

Fairfax County has 1,625 school buses.

But even with students learning virtually, FCPS’s yellow buses are still cruising the streets.

School leaders said they are delivering meals, school supplies, as well as transporting students to daycare programs.

ABC7 was also told the buses are running to keep skills fresh for the the 1,200 school bus drivers.

School bus driver Kate Masterson wants to be ready when students return to school in-person.

“Whenever you see a bus on the road, there is a function and a purpose behind it,” said Masterson. “It is a very important skill to be able to drive one of these safely.”

When Masterson is not driving, she is helping around West Springfield Elementary with clerical and light janitorial work.

“Being able to give back to the kids when we can’t see them is really important,” said Masterson. “We miss them so much. We are here. We are helping and we can’t wait to see them.”

Another major reason to keep the buses moving is to make sure the buses don’t deteriorate.

FCPS said letting buses sit around could cause expensive maintenance problems.

“Our school Superintendent and School Board are committed to keeping the FCPS family intact and ensuring that you are paid for hours actually worked,” wrote FCPS Director of Transportation Francine Furby in a letter to employees. “Our goal has been to assign everyone meaningful work during this virtual learning period.”

Transportation employees returned on August 25th for safety training, including learning about the new cleaning and social distancing protocols.

“Buses are not and should not be driven without a specific purpose,” said Furby. “However, buses must be driven on a regular basis in order to prevent maintenance issues that arise when left stationary for extended periods of time. Area offices are scheduling drivers on a rotating basis in order to comply with social distancing on the bus lots and at schools.”

FCPS run approximately 1,200 buses a day during a typical school year.

The bus fleet age is between 1 to 18 years. Their replacement age is 15 years.

The average annual maintenance per bus is approximately $8,000.

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