Keeping kids safe, one bus ride at a time

For bus drivers, safety has always been a top priority. Nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, that hasn’t changed — but the ways they go about it have.

Armed with assorted cleaning supplies and backpack-style sprayers filled with hospital-quality disinfectant, crews gather every Friday and Saturday to thoroughly disinfects every surface of every bus used that week.

“We make sure everything is safe,” said Tyrick McCoy, a response team operator for Transportation Services and member of the bus sanitization team.

The process isn’t easy — and it’s done in addition to the typical spray-and-wipe sanitizing that happens before and after every bus run.

First, a worker wearing the backpack mister walks the bus, covering every surface with disinfectant. Then another crew equipped with towels and disinfectant spray follows behind, wiping down all the seats and windows.

The final product is a completely disinfected and sanitized bus, ready for a new week of students.

When McCoy arrives, he readies the backpacks and makes sure there are enough cloth towels to wipe the windows and seats. He also makes sure there are gloves and masks to keep everyone safe.

 “It’s very important so they won’t get sick or bring it to their families and continue to spread the pandemic,” McCoy said. “We have a lot of responsibility.”

The importance of the job also weighs heavily on his colleague, Response Team Operator Samuel Gallegos, who has been with HISD for six years. If he doesn’t do his job correctly, he said, someone could get sick.

“One of my coworkers could be out of work or I could put their family at risk. Not just that, but we’ve got students to worry about,” Gallegos said. “We could have a future president on our bus. We have to keep them safe.”