School bus driver dies of COVID-19 complications in Lee County as parent push for transparency from district

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
Brandi Gluski, whose child attends a Lee County school, said she wants the district to start tracking COVID cases. (CREDIT: WINK News)

A school bus driver from Lee County has become the 20th employee from a school to die since July in Florida. This happened over the weekend. Vandrias Grant worked in what is known as the east zone at the Buckingham Compound.

The district says she drove her bus on the first day of school. It’s unknown whether she was vaccinated.

Seven other transportation employees with the School District of Lee County have been hospitalized. Now, their co-workers are calling for a mask mandate to make their working conditions safer. They want a mandate for every single bus. Jamie Michael works with the union and says that many of the drivers do not feel safe with so many unmasked kids on their buses. Her fear is that more drivers and other staff members will contract the virus.

Parents, on the other hand, are pushing for transparency from the district. They are unhappy with the way the district has been handling the pandemic. Parents want to know how many positive cases of COVID-19 are at their children’s schools and they want that information immediately.

A spokesperson for the district says SDLC is working to make the information available as soon as possible.

They want this information since it’s only two weeks into the school year and classrooms are already closing due to COVID-19 surges. Teachers and students are being sent home to quarantine but the school district won’t say how many.

Kevin Daly is the president of the Teacher’s Association of Lee County. “When are we going to be transparent about, you know, the cases and what’s out there,” said Daly.

Sean Corey is a Lee County parent. “They’re not being very transparent about anything. They’re hiding it and I don’t think that’s right,” Corey said.

He and his son Hayden both tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, August 18. Corey informed the school board, his son’s teachers and aftercare. At the time the story aired on television, the school had not sent out this information. Corey confirmed with WINK News Monday evening parents in his son’s class have since been notified.

“My son rides the school bus. He sits at a table with five other kids and he changes classrooms and goes to another classroom with five, five kids at one desk. I’m just worried,” said Corey.

Rob Spicker, a spokesman for SDLC, says the district is sending out notifications as fast as it can and it’s working on a dashboard to show positive cases. Spicker says he hopes the dashboard will be up and running by the end of this week.

The spokesperson says it isn’t an issue of transparency rather that the district is short-staffed. “There are our a limited number of people who work on this issue every day. Some of them are working it sounds as if about 16 or 18 hours a day and not getting paid for those extra hours above eight but they are doing that work because it needs to be done so notifications are going out as fast as they possibly can from us when a case is confirmed,” said Spicker.

Many have asked why the district’s student enrollment office suddenly closed on Sunday. The district says a couple dozen of its staff members in the office either tested positive for the virus or were exposed to it. If you are in need of the student enrollment office, you will have to go online now.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.