Parents upset over packed school buses in Lee County

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
An image shows students close together on a Lee County school bus during the first week of school in August 2021. This caused concern for many parents during a time when coronavirus cases are spreading at a high rate. Credit: Shared with WINK News.

Parents are concerned after seeing a recording of kids packed together on a bus with and without masks on. Those we spoke to are upset and say they will take action if the school district doesn’t act first.

Meanwhile, the district says there’s no way the bus could pass its capacity limit. A district spokesperson says, with the shortage of bus drivers, it’s forcing them to pick up all or part of a second route. That’s a route parents are not happy to send their kids on.

Sophomore Kayla Vega, who attends Mariner High School in Cape Coral, said she felt cramped riding the bus Wednesday. She was sitting on her sister’s lap with two other students next to her.

“We were very cramped together, and it wasn’t like sanitary for COVID-19,” Vega said.

It’s not something her mom wants to deal with for the rest of the school year either.

“It’s just infuriated me because you know my girls were telling me that there’s female sitting on top of males that they don’t even know,” Yahaira Acevedo said. “Some of them are 18 years old, you know. It’s just not appropriate, very uncomfortable.”

Jena Ryan’s daughter also attends Mariner High School. Tuesday, her daughter returned home to tell her she rode in the aisle of the bus.

“I’m not happy about it,’ Ryan said. “I mean, the bus driver never should have left. I don’t blame him. But he shouldn’t have drove. Even splitting the route and making kids go home later would have been safer than if they would have gotten a wreck. Those kids would have been even more in danger.”

For these parents, there’s no more room on the bus for added dangers.

“I think this was the final straw,” Acevedo said. “We’ll see if it gets better tomorrow. If not, they’re staying home.”

Parents hope these issues clear up. The District asks for everyone’s patience and is hopeful more people will sign up for the job.

Anyone interested in a school bus driver position in Lee County can apply on The School District of Lee County’s website.

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