MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — Across the state, thousands of school bus drivers deliver students to and from school safely every day.
Often serving as one of the first people kids see when they start their school day, to one of their last.
“I say ‘hey, have a good afternoon, I’ll see you tomorrow,’” said Alan Lee.
For 32 years, Lee has continued to bring kids to and from school safely throughout the Mankato Area Public Schools District.
“Some of the kids I’ve known upwards of 30 years, I’ve got kids of kids on the bus sometimes,” said Lee. “You have to be weather aware. You’re driving a 40 foot long, 15,000-pound vehicle with everybody’s precious cargo and that’s a big responsibility.”
Lee began driving bus for Yeager Bus Service in 1989 as a senior in college. A profession he says gave him the flexibility to raise two children, work at the church and look after his aging mother.
School districts across the state are honoring school bus drivers as part of Minnesota School Bus Driver Appreciation Week.
“The relationships that bus drivers form with students really becomes part of the overall school experience,” MAPS Business Services Director Tom Sager said.
But what used to be recognized for just one day has been extended to a whole week by Gov. Tim Walz, in honor of the essential work drivers provide during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Maintaining those safety precautions is also now an important part of what the bus driver does as well,” said Sager.
In Minneapolis, the Interstate 35W bridge shined bright yellow in honor of those dedicated school bus drivers like Lee.