News 8 Exclusive: Cleaning, safety protocols at Waterbury school bus company where driver tested positive for COVID-19

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s been a rough week already at All-Star Transportation in Waterbury — a school bus driver tested positive for COVID-19.

“I was nervous because I was scared,” said Cecilia Laroche, a bus monitor. “What if I came into contact with that person?”

The Director of Training at All-Star Transportation’s Waterbury branch told News 8 they believe the unidentified driver contracted the virus outside of work. Mayor Neil O’Leary says the school district was notified on Sunday by Waterbury’s Department of Public Health.

“She’s fine,” said Brenda Bass of All-Star Transportation. “Actually, no symptoms, so she’s doing well.”

That driver is quarantined for 14 days. In the meantime, the company forges ahead with its mission of safely delivering rides to and from school for Waterbury special education students.

Bass allowed News 8 to visit the facility to see what steps the company is taking to make the buses as safe as possible for the drivers and students.

It starts with the PPE available to each driver outside the company’s headquarters that drivers take onto the school buses with them.

“Free masks as often as they need them,” Bass said. “Disposable masks, gloves, cleaning products, face shields.”

They also carry extra face masks in case some of the kids forgot to wear their own.

Bass also told News 8 the bus drivers and bus monitors must spray and wipe down their buses after all routes are done. That means a wipe down after the early morning run for high school students and wipe downs after all of the other runs for students at lower grade levels.

“So, it could mean eight times a day that the drivers and monitors are wiping these buses down,” Bass said.

“We’re cleaning every single seat; no matter what child sat in [it],” Laroche said.

Then, after all that, another person hops on the bus at the end of the day and gives the buses a thorough “de-misting” with another round of spraying.

“So, that bus sits with that disinfectant on it overnight and dries in place,” Bass said.

Laroche said all of this has since given her a new sense of comfort.

“I don’t feel scared,” she said. “I feel safe.”

News 8 asked bus drivers what propels them to continue working during this time of uncertainty?

“We need to work and our kids need to go to school because some parents don’t have day care,” said Rita Sooklall, another driver.

They continue to show up and hit the road while one of their own is on the road to recovery.

“We are keeping our co-worker in our prayers and we hope that she feels better,” Sooklall said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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