Coronavirus: Principal drives students home amid bus driver shortage

FANCY FARM, Ky. — A principal for a rural Kentucky elementary school is going the extra mile for students, filling in for bus drivers who are out sick because of the coronavirus.

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Janet Throgmorton has worked at Fancy Farm Elementary for 25 years, the last 11 as principal, WDSP reported.

Students recently returned to classrooms; however, two of the school’s four drivers are out, infected with the coronavirus, leaving Throgmorton no choice but to fill in.

She said one of the drivers has been on a ventilator for more than 40 days, NBC News reported. The other driver is recovering after battling infection. She said they got sick while the school was conducting virtual learning.

Throgmorton, who got her commercial driver’s license about three years ago, has driven students home each afternoon.

“The kids getting on the bus were very surprised. And they’re like, ‘Ms. Janet, why are you driving our bus?’ And some of them even said, ‘Mrs. Janet, do you know how to drive a bus?’ So they’ve enjoyed it,” Throgmorton said. “Some of their parent reactions when I drop them off as the parents meet the bus for the younger children, especially. They would kind of wave at me and then, they would take a double take because they would realize it was me. But it’s been positive.”

Students are required to wear masks, use hand sanitizer and social distance while aboard the bus.

She has periodically driven a bus as needed in the past.

“They think I drive too slow, and I don’t do the route the way the regular driver does it because I try to avoid having to back up to turn around,” Throgmorton said. “And so I might drive a little bit further to avoid that, and so they tease me about that a little bit. But no, they are very encouraging about things. So, if I do have to back up to turn around, sometimes they might applaud me. They tell me I did a good job.”

Throgmorton said she is ready to drive next week if needed.

“It’s like anybody that works in a school. You do whatever is necessary to get the job done so that kids are safe and loved and learning,” Throgmorton said. “And that’s what we’re all here for.”

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