People are used to seeing school buses in their Carbon County neighborhoods, but after school was dismissed because of the pandemic crisis in the country on March 13, few expected to see them running up and down streets around the county for some time. So on March 16, when they started appearing once again, running their regular routes, at a different time than usual, some wondered why they were out. And even more to their surprise sometimes they would see them twice in one hour.
The answer is simple; schools have more responsibility than just putting kids in classrooms and teaching them the Three R’s. There is a social responsibility that resides there as well. And in the case of school being dismissed, there are a lot of kids in neighborhoods all over the county, who rely on school breakfast and lunch.
“We realized the problem as soon as the situation concerning dismissal came up,” said Carbon School District Superintendent Lance Hatch. “I asked Bruce Bean (Director of Transportation) and Heidi Anderson (Lunch Coordinator) if they could find a way to get food out to the students while we were not in session. They put their heads together and almost right away came back and said, ‘Yes we can.”
No one wanted kids to go hungry even for one day so over the weekend that ensued after the state’s edict to pause school, school district employees and administrators worked hard to set up the program.
Preparation for the food starts at 5:30 in the morning at each of the elementary kitchens. Food service personnel work under some pretty tight deadlines to get the food out for two meals, and as soon as breakfast is out the door, lunch preparation begins. When ready the food is wheeled out to the buses on carts, where para professionals the district has assigned to help with the process wait with bus drivers to take the food out to kids.
Drivers are also realizing that a lot of people and children don’t know about the service, so they are actually recruiting kids to come to their buses.
“A lot of people don’t know this is going on,” said Leslie Howard, one of the drivers as she pulled the bus away from a home where she was talking to a little girl about it. “I just know there are kids looking out of the windows of their houses and seeing us but don’t they don’t come out. Many of their parents are working and they have been told to stay inside.”
In this strange time in America, and in the local area, some things about what might happen are up in the air, but for now the big yellow familiar buses that almost everyone rode on at one point or another as a kid, are still showing up in neighborhoods, to add a little normalcy to everyone’s lives.