CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Several Chesterfield County Public Schools bus drivers have resigned after the school system re-entered a virtual learning plan.
Many Chesterfield bus drivers would have taken their own children on the bus with them in a normal environment during work hours. Now, many are left to find child care.
WRIC spoke with some who were faced with the decision to stay home and take care of their children or put food on the table.
Kayla Mylott’s dream was to become a bus driver as a young child. In July 2018, she began driving students for Chesterfield County Public Schools. She told WRIC, however, that Friday, she decided to resign. She returned her keys and turned in her resignation letter.
“My mom was a bus driver years and years ago. When I was a kid, I used to ride my bike and pretend I was a bus driver,” Mylott said.
Like Mylott, many bus drivers depend on bringing their own children on the bus, avoiding child care expenses. Mylott has three boys. One bus driver told WRIC that she resigned on Dec. 1. The driver did not qualify for unemployment.
In addition, Mylott told WRIC she received notice Monday that she was on leave without pay.
“What are we supposed to do?”
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) initially provided drivers paid leave due to the pandemic. To keep drivers employed, the school district assigned them to alternative job assignments like meal preparation, meal delivery, maintenance, custodial and more. According to Mylott, she cannot bring her kids to work and cannot participate because of her medical conditions.
According to Chesterfield County Public Schools, a number of drivers took advantage of FFCRA, federal paid leave for reasons related to COVID-19. This allowed for 12 weeks of leave for childcare. Many of those leaves ended on Nov. 24, if they began at the start of school. That happened to coincide with the return to virtual learning on Nov. 30 for some cohorts.
“I’m having to quit a job that I absolutely love doing because it’s out of my control,” Mylott said. “These are the people that carry your precious cargo to and from school every day and we absolutely love what we do. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t and we don’t want to quit. We don’t want to be fired, but we’re being forced to.”
According to Mylott, her husband has had to take on a part-time job on top of his full-time job to support their family. She hopes to return to bus driving when she can safely do so.
According to Chesterfield County Public Schools, in lieu of furloughs for bus drivers, the school division is still providing the alternate work assignments that would continue the current employee’s salary and benefits.