BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many things have changed over the last year and a half, but the passion Brevard County school bus driver Nicole Ewart has for her work and her commitment to her students has not.
She’s been a school bus driver with Brevard Public School Transportation for three years and before that, she worked in a school cafeteria, where she also interacted daily with Brevard students.
“I just love the kids,” said Ewart, who is also a mom to a Brevard County student.
Despite the changes brought on by the pandemic, Ewart is feeling optimistic about the school year, which officially kicked off this week in Brevard County.
News 6 traffic safety expert Trooper Steven Montiero sat down with Ewart to hear more about her passion and plans for the year.
Below is a Q&A version of their interview:
Trooper Steve: “Going into this new year, what are you expecting to be a little different than, obviously, previous years when you first started?”
Nicole Ewart: “Well, it’s a little bit more similar to last year, except for there’s no masks. OK, because right now they’re optional. We will be spraying down like we did last year making sure that the bus is sanitized after each set of kids is picked up and dropped off at school, we will sanitize the seats on the bus to make sure we’re all clean for the next set of kids to go up and there’s no COVID around.”
Trooper Steve: “So when you first joined the school system and started driving for Brevard, that first school, the first year of driving, were the sanitation procedures as strict as they are now or no?”
Nicole Ewart: “At that time, there were no sanitation procedures; we did not have that before COVID.”
Trooper Steve: “So if there was anything, that if you, Nicole, had a one-on-one opportunity to talk to each student, and even their parents, what are a few things that you would want them to know?”
Nicole Ewart: “Just parents, be a little patient, you know, especially with the bus driver, first few days with us getting to know your child and making sure we put your child into a seat that will be social distanced. And, you know, give us a chance to ensure your child’s going to be safe on this bus. Because that’s our job. And that’s our hardest job, making sure every child is safe on this bus.”
Trooper Steve: “And then for those students, obviously, if you have your assigned route, you’re gonna get the same students all the time, and you’re going to be their bus driver for the school year. What’s some of the things you tell them as the students to be safe or the rules to miss Nicole’s bus?”
Nicole Ewart: “Well, the top one thing is no eating and drinking on the bus. Of course, those are the overall rules. Having manners on the bus, making sure you do follow the rules, especially with COVID. We want to make sure nobody gets sick. I tell them how it’s important not to get sick. And just follow the rules and you will be safe.”
Trooper Steve: “Are you concerned about anything going into this new school year after everything we’ve been going through?”
Nicole Ewart: “I am actually not concerned. We have done everything we could for the safety of the children. And I believe that we will still continue to do everything safely for the children and there’s really no concern at this point.”
Trooper Steve: “Are you excited about to get back into some type of normalcy?”
Nicole Ewart: “I’m excited to get back to normal, I’m excited for everybody to be normal, you know, go here and there and be able to just live our lives again. But until that happens, we need to just follow the rules until that point to make sure we’re still safe.”
District officials said parents are given bus route information during school registration.
If you have questions regarding your child’s bus route, officials recommend calling the Transportation department, which has been divided by the following areas:
- Central - 321-633-3680
- Mid-South - 321-242-6497
- North - 321-269-2055
- South - 321-727-2070
The first day of school for first to 12th graders in Brevard County is Tuesday, Aug. 10.
The first day of school for all kindergartners is Aug. 13. Brevard County school district officials said kindergartners will go in one day that week — Aug.10, 11 or 12 — for testing. Parents should make appointments through the school.
Pre-K students begin Aug. 17.
Everything else Brevard County parents need to know ahead of the new school year can be found in this back-to-school guide. More information about the school year can be found at ClickOrlando.com/backtoschool.