Hillsborough Co. district reports a high number of bus driver absences during the flu epidemic

Some drivers have had to double up on runs

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — A school district reported having a high number of bus drivers, mechanics, and supervisors call out sick.

According to Hillsborough County Public Schools, some of those employees claimed to be experiencing flu-like symptoms.

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"We’re just seeing that there are drivers that are calling out sick right now — flu like symptoms or just not feeling well and when they don’t feel well we want them to stay home because we don’t want them driving a bus when they’re not feeling well and potentially even getting the children sick," Tanya Arja, Hillsborough County Public Schools Spokesperson said. 

Arja said they do not have exact numbers of the amount of absences, but she said it isn't isolated to one bus route; it's an issue district-wide and it includes drivers, mechanics, even supervisors. To take care of the routes, some drivers are doubling up on runs. 

"Drivers will take students home from school at the end of the day, come back, (and) pick up another set of students and go and take them," Arja said.

The CDC reported this year's flu season is the worst since 2009. 

"With all the people that are, you know, getting sick and dying — it's scary," Tammy Esler said.

Esler's granddaughter attends Summerfield Elementary School. 

"If they're getting sick and having flu-like symptoms, it's great that they're letting them stay home and taking care of themselves 'cause nobody needs to be sick," Esler said 

Arja said if a bus is expected to be late, picking up children or dropping them off at home, parents will receive a call. Arja said their health services team is constantly checking with the health department, monitoring schools, and she said they take this seriously. 

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"We want to make sure that everyone that is at school is healthy and if somebody is not feeling well that they stay home," Arja said.

Arja stresses they do not have any outbreaks at any of their schools. Their message to their employees is the same to parents, if your child has a fever or flu-like symptoms, they should stay home.

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