Eddie Planck posted this picture of himself on Facebook asking parents of his students to tell them he misses them. SUBMITTED PHOTO.

Living through coronavirus: Butler County bus driver missing students since schools shut down

Eddie Planck is out of a job, his wife will lose her job at a daycare center this week, he has two children to support and he misses the students who ride on his school bus, all casualties caused by the coronavirus.

Planck, 35, is a bus driver for the Lakota Local School District, and although he’s only been on the job for two years, he has become attached to the students he interacts with twice a day.

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“It’s sad not seeing them every day,” he said. “Just not knowing when I will see them again. Seeing them is an important part of my day. I feel better after I see them. Kids help lift the spirits.”

He posted a picture on his Facebook page with the words: “So I am the bus driver of bus 156. I am missing the kids smiles during all of this. If any of the parents that I drive for are in this group could you please tell them Mr. Eddie says hello and I am thinking of them.”

His biggest concern is when will the coronavirus pandemic subside enough that Gov. Mike DeWine allows classes to resume.

“The unknown is the worst part,” he said. “It’s tough when you have a sudden change in the way your life goes.”

He works two shifts as a full-time bus driver: 6:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. to 5 p.m. He picks up 120 kids who attend Heritage Early Childhood School and St. Gabriel Consolidate School in Glendale.

As a bus driver, Planck feels he has two equally important jobs: getting the kids to and from school safely and helping them deal with any problems at school or home. He greets them every morning, wishes them a good night as they exit the bus after school. He’s in charge of commuting and counseling.

“I treat the kids like I do my own children,” said Planck, who has a 9-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter. “Keep them safe and talk to them about tough things in their lives. It’s a big responsibility. You don’t want to mess up the trust with everyone. Parents are trusting me with their most prized possession in my possession. It’s very fulfilling to have someone trust you like that.”

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Before driving a bus, Planck worked in loss prevention at a local retail store. It was a paycheck that left him unfulfilled, he said. He lost that job, then worked “odd jobs here and there,” he said.

Then one day he visited his wife, Abby, at All About Kids. While there, he noticed a sign at the Lakota Bus Terminal that said the district was hiring bus drivers.

“Let’s give it a shot,” he told his wife.

He doesn’t regret that decision.

“I love it,” he said. “I can’t believe I didn’t do it before.”

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