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‘They’re my kids’: Las Cruces school bus drivers deliver meals to students, despite safety concerns

school bus driver
KVIA
A Las Cruces school bus driver wearing a mask returns to her route to deliver meals.

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - Dozens of school bus drivers hit the road again Monday in Las Cruces.

However, the yellow buses were missing their precious cargo: children.

"They're my kids," said Wayne Steppings, a driver of four years. "I want to make sure that they are fed."​

Las Cruces Public Schools partnered with STS New Mexico to deliver meals to neighborhoods across the region for the duration of the school year. Here is an exact schedule with locations.

"Heaven knows, I'm a school bus driver," Stepping said. "I have 35 kids on my bus in the morning. I know of at least 20 of them that don't eat until they get to school."

However, the union president remains concerned about the safety of the drivers, even with personal protective equipment.

"It's not responsible," said Marcos Torres, the president of the Las Cruces Transportation Federation. "I love my students. I would gladly give up my life for them if a situation came to that... But by doing what we're doing, we're putting them and their families at risk."

Torres told ABC-7 that there are two to three staffers on each bus. He said he hasn't seen every driver wearing a mask.

"Safety is our number one priority for our employees at all times," said a spokesman for STS. "During this time, we have taken extra precautions to make sure we limit the drivers' interaction with the public."

The company spokesman told ABC-7 that the drivers have personal protective equipment, get their temperature checked and maintain social distancing.

"If I can provide these kids with food, with nourishment, I'm proud to do it," said Steppings. "I''m 72 years old. I'm supposed to be high risk... but I'm going to put myself out there with protection to deliver to these kids what they need."

Coronavirus Video / New Mexico / News / Video

Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is ABC-7’s New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend evening newscasts.

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