Two other school districts face a harsh reality when it comes to widespread labor shortages and COVID-19. A shortage of bus drivers has led one school district in Herkimer County to switch to distance learning and another to make serious adjustments.
In a letter to parents, officials from the Herkimer Central School District announced that due to the shortage of bus drivers with the Birnie Bus Company until December 22, they are orienting students towards the distance learning model. On Tuesday, December 14, the district will host a Superintendent’s Day where staff are welcome to introduce themselves and students do not need to. Distance learning will remain in place until the end of the week, for the time being.
Although learning will be done remotely, buses will be available to transport athletes to and from sports competitions. The letter from the district indicates that sports competitions will continue as normal. The district also announced that the middle and high school choral concerts will be rescheduled, along with the H academic ceremony. would proceed as planned.
As a result of this problem, the district told community members in their letter that they would activate three of the five emergency days, giving the students two full weeks off. Before the holidays, students will have a leave of absence from December 20 to 22. After the winter break, officials announced plans to resume in-person learning on January 3.
In the Central Valley Academy School District, parents are required to bring their own children to school in some areas of the district, while buses will be restricted for others. Superintendent Jeremy Rich posted a message to the school community asking parents for help with transporting children starting Tuesday, December 14. The COVID outbreak at the Herkimer Birnie bus terminal in charge of transportation for all journeys from Mohawk and Ilion villages in the Central Valley.
Superintendent Rich is making the request in an attempt to avoid switching to the distance learning model for schools. District officials say,
Rather than shutting down the school and going virtual, Mr. Rich called on the community to be part of the solution to this huge problem. The district will only transport students in its own buses – buses 4, 5, 9, 11 and special education routes. All other students will need to walk to school, cycle with parents or friends, or drive themselves. The neighborhood will transport BOCES and VP-Tech students to and from their programs only from the CVA campus.
If there are parents who are not able to transport students who are not transported in the above routes, then they will be able to connect to the lessons using “Zoom”. Superintendent Rich says:
It won’t be perfect. But we have already experienced the difficulties of distance learning and I hope our community will try this in order to have a majority of students in front of their teachers in the classroom. I believe in our people and I believe in our community and I believe we will be successful in our struggle.
The hope is that when the Birnie Bus Company fixes their problem, regular routes can resume. Bus driver shortages cause several problems, but this is not exclusive to bus drivers. COVID-19 is definitely a factor and hopefully a solution can be found.
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