Published:Sep. 3, 2021 at 7:40 AM EDT
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Several Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) bus drivers went on strike Friday morning and did not drive their routes.
According to the district, over 50 SCCPSS bus drivers called out of work Friday morning saying they will not be driving their routes. Bus drivers said their main concerns are safety on the bus, fair pay, retirement benefits, and overall communication from the school board.
“Literally enough is enough. We have tried several forms of communication as far as sitting in the office, talking to them to try to negotiate some issues and the answer is always the same, we are working on it. So today we decided not to move the buses because why...we are working on it,” SCCPSS bus driver Kendrick Banks said.
The protest is heavily affecting bus routes Friday morning. The school district sent the following notification to parents to warn them of the issue -“The Savannah-Chatham County Public School System Transportation Department is currently experiencing significant delays district wide.”
A school district spokeswoman said the district was not aware ahead of the strike Friday morning. The district states it is working to call all the additional coaches or employees with a CDL licenses to make sure all the kids were able to get to school and can get home Friday afternoon.
Drivers and monitors plan to protest again at 1 p.m. and will not drive their afternoon routes. The district estimates close to 20 percent of all drivers are out, so the district is telling parents to expect delays Friday afternoon.
The following statement was sent by SCCPSS:
“SCCPSS is working to overcome staffing issues among bus drivers that created delays with morning arrivals on Friday, September 3, 3021. An already understaffed department was hindered further when 54 drivers unexpectedly called out and were not available to transport students. The District notified parents of the potential for delays in an early morning notification. The driver callout has the potential to impact afternoon routes as well. We will keep our families informed of any possible delays this afternoon.
The District is working to pull from other staffing resources to provide coverage for the routes left vacant. SCCPSS apologizes to our families for the disruption this situation may have caused and is committed to ensuring all students arrive to school and return home safe and on time.
The District continues to advertise for drivers and is actively hiring. The staffing of this department is a key strategic priority. Drivers play an integral role in the operation of our school system and serve as a resource that thousands of our families rely on each day. SCCPSS has implemented COVID safety mitigation practices including the use of masks on the school bus, and deep clearing and daily sanitization practices. Contact tracing procedures also extend to the school bus. Any affected staff or students must follow quarantine protocols.
District Administration is working to identify the drivers who did not report to work today and to determine the factors that contributed to their absence. SCCPSS is committed to working closely with transportation staff to find solutions that support our shared goals of providing quality educational services to the 37,000 children we serve daily. We appreciate the patience and understanding of our families during this labor shortage period.”
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