ST. LOUIS – As this extreme heat continues, first-week-of-school headaches are mounting across the bi-state area, especially for school bus drivers.
Missouri Central School Bus services four school districts, including St. Louis Public Schools, Ladue School District, University City School District, and the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation.
“It’s hot, it’s hot, and it’s hot,” bus driver Connie Weaver said.
It’s been so hot that four bus drivers required EMS attention after finishing their shifts.
“I’ve never driven with this type of temperature before,” Weaver, a 21-year veteran, said.
By 1 p.m. Thursday, about 15 bus drivers had called off work, citing heat as their main concern. Scott Allen, the Missouri Central School Bus region operations manager, said that’s about 10% of their workforce.
“It gets pretty warm on there very quickly,” Allen said.
Due to the shortage, Allen and other district office employees will be driving buses Thursday and Friday. St. Louis Public Schools sent out a memo on Thursday warning students and parents of expected delays between 30 minutes and two hours.
“Depending on how bad it becomes, we may have to circle back, and schools will have to hold (students) in the gym with the air conditioning,” Allen said.
Weaver said the triple-digit temperatures outside make her bus feel close to 110 degrees.
“We have to pick up our children,” she said. “We have to get our babies home, so we are tough veteran soldiers, and we get out there and get it done.”
Students are feeling the effects of the heat as well. On Thursday morning, Pierre Laclede Junior Career Academy was evacuated due to a faulty air conditioner.
“Basically, what’s going on at Pierre Laclede is the air conditioner is older,” SLPS communications director George Sells said.
About 200 students were taken to the old Stevens Middle School, which serves as a community education center. Students are expected to return to class on Friday with temporary air conditioning units.
St. Louis Public Schools students dealing with bus delays will be given bus tickets while school teams are prepared to supervise students affected by school bus delays.