Family, friends mourn loss of bus monitor who died from COVID-19

Duval County bus drivers gather to honor bus drivers who passed away from COVID-19. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Duval County School bus monitor died due to COVID-19.

The mother of Estella Henry said she was with Durham School Services for 15 years and died Sunday, Aug. 29.

Her colleagues honored her and other bus drivers and monitors who died from COVID-19 during a gathering on Thursday.

“She loved her job. She loved her kids. The children on her bus, loved Estella,” said Alzie Henry, Estella’s mother. “She had a very good heart. A big heart.”

Alzie was a bus driver in the same department but resigned after her daughter died.

“This is where I lost my baby at and I can’t do it right now. A lot of people have died,” she said.

MORE | Duval school bus driver says 2 coworkers have died after contracting COVID-19

She believes Estella was exposed while on her routes.

After losing bus drivers and monitors to the coronavirus, some employees say they want to be better protected for their safety and the kids.

“We’re important as well. We come in close proximity with the kids. And if they did what they did last year where the mandated right off the rip mandated the masks as well as sanitizing we disinfected our busses well in between each tier, it would’ve made a difference even this year going into with more deaths and more COVID cases, " said bus driver Demestrist Bellingsley.

Some say they want the current Duval County school mask mandate to go longer than 90 days.

They also want parents to encourage kids to wear masks while on the bus.

Henry says had this been in place then maybe, just maybe, her daughter would still be here.

“It’s just not safe,” Henry said.

The employees said they also want to be included in the pandemic bonuses given to teachers and principals from Gov. Ron DeSantis.

We asked the Teamsters Union, who represents bus drivers if they are negotiating for the payments.

A representative said “while our members are not public employees, we have and continue to negotiate increased wages and bonuses due to COVID and the driver shortage.”

The Duval County Teachers Union does not represent bus drivers.

We’re told Duval Teachers United is also working to negotiate for non-classroom teachers to get COVID bonuses.

About the Author:

A Florida-born, Emmy Award winning journalist and proud NC A&T SU grad