School bus drivers

Making the most of sequestration. Housebound children are having their meals and lessons delivered via, their respective bus driver. Williamsburg County School District (WCSD) Superintendent Dr. Rose Wilder initiated the idea after talks with State Department of Education Superintendent Molly Spearman.                                                       

Photo by Michaele Duke

Bus driver Pearl Johnson heads out on her normal route, but today she won’t be picking up kids to take to Anderson Primary. Instead Johnson and other bus drivers of the Williamsburg County School District (WCSD) are delivering breakfast, lunch and lessons to the homebound students.

The delivery system is in response to the COVID-19 and an effort to make life for students without a classroom as smooth as possible. WCSD Superintendent Dr. Rose Wilder initiated the idea after talks with State Department of Education Superintendent Molly Spearman. “The teachers are working hard putting together those packets,” said Wilder. “A lot of our kids don’t have technology at home which means that we have to send all of our kids hard copy packets and they’ve done a great job at putting that all together.” Other districts such as Georgetown County School District are setting up a drive up service.

Wilder said the first set of lessons must be turned in by March 31, and again be implemented through the help of the bus drivers. “Our bus drivers have really risen to the occasion, and our food service staff are making two meals at a time.”

Since Tuesday, March 17, the system has involved more than simply getting the meals to the students. The district’s food service employees are following their daily routine as well as teachers who are preparing instructional packets.

W.M. Anderson Primary School Principal Patricia C. Burch said they have a partnership with Low Country Food Bank of Charleston. “The Back Pack Buddy program provides healthy, nutritious meals and or snacks to students from low-income households,” she said. “Cereal, milk, fruit strips, green beans, mixed fruit cups, pudding cups, and canned spaghetti and Beef Ravioli were included in today’s distribution.”

It seems to be going as planned. By nine o’clock the busses are loaded with supplies and heading out. Johnson‘s first stop is the Cedar Hill Community, where several children run to meet her. Smiles abound as they wave to their driver. Johnson hands off the bags and one young man checks out the contents. “I got Lucky Charms, an apple and a hotdog,” says Terrell McKnight as he scampers off, ready to bite into that juicy apple and start his homework.