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Grant pays for 150 universal precaution kits

Submitted Photo Jodi Johnson, Ward County Superintendent of Schools, shows off some of the items in a universal precaution kit that will be distributed to school bus drivers in the county. Bus drivers end up cleaning up the bus when a child vomits on the bus or has another type of accident.

School bus drivers in Ward County now have emergency kits that they can use when they are cleaning up a mess and use to protect themselves from body fluids

“Usually if a child is sick, they’re sick in the morning and usually the first place they are in the morning is on the bus,” explained Ward County Superintendent of Schools Jodi Johnson.

She wrote a grant through Enbridge Partners that funded 150 of the kits.

“I want every bus in Ward County to have a kit,” she said.

The universal precaution kits include a mask, gloves, an apron, two kinds of disinfectant wipes, a biohazard bag, a fluid solidifier to firm up vomit or other body fluids so that it can more easily be thrown away, and a folding shovel.

Bus drivers and other staff will be able to use the items in the kit to protect themselves from coming into contact with pathogens.

Any leftover kits will be made available to the public schools.

Johnson said it is important to keep bus drivers health and safe and to show bus drivers that they are greatly appreciated.

Bus drivers are becoming hard to find in Ward County, particularly in rural school districts. Bus driving jobs often require drivers to work a split shift, in the morning and the afternoon, and work hours and salaries are not always desirable. Some school districts have tried to make the jobs more competitive by offering health insurance for bus drivers. Other districts hire bus drivers as school aides during the hours they are not driving the school bus.

Bus drivers attended a mandatory training last week on topics such as mandatory reporting of child abuse or neglect, on opioid use and on recognizing and working with kids who have behavioral/mental health problems.

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