District transportation cut until after Thanksgiving
COVID-19 cases in Union County are spiking and the Marysville School District is not immune to the impact.
A letter sent to parents Wednesday detailed drastic changes to the district’s transportation options which will last until after Thanksgiving.
“Unfortunately as of this morning, nearly 40% of our transportation staff is unable to report to duty due to COVID related and extended absences,” the letter from Superintendent Diane Allen reads. “Transportation requires a skilled staff, and we have exhausted our substitute options.
“At this point, we will need to make significant changes to our transportation services.”
Beginning today, the district cut its bus routes significantly because of the driver shortage.
Allen said a typical school year involves 35 bus routes, which had been trimmed to 29 this year because staff restrictions and a lower number of students requiring transportation. She said substitute drivers are difficult to find and the district has exhausted all options for backups.
The superintendent said the routes have been already been redesigned four or five times this year to meet driver and student changes, but after two more transportation staff members received positive tests earlier this week there was no way to meet the needs of the district.
“We just simply can’t cover the routes,” Allen said.
About 100 students identified as being in “high need” of transportation services will still be serviced by the district. Those students were contacted by school officials on Wednesday, according to the correspondence.
Marysville continues to hold classes under the existing hybrid model and parents are being to encouraged to transport their students to class, if possible.
If parents can’t make arrangements to get children to school, the students will be allowed to complete work remotely with no penalty for absence, according to the letter.
Students currently either attend class on Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday with Wednesday being used to aggressively clean buildings. A small number of students requiring extra attending do attend class all five days of the week.
The district calendar currently lists Nov. 23 and 24 being remote learning days for all students except those requiring the additional instruction time. Those two days have now been switched to full remote learning days for all students, ahead of planned Thanksgiving vacation days on Nov. 25-27.
Transportation services are slated to resume on Nov. 30.
Prior to the start of the school year, the district had built in a 100% remote learning period from Thanksgiving through the holidays. At October’s board of education meeting officials decided to remove that option and continue with the hybrid schedule currently in place.
While administrators continue to monitor increasing number of student and staff impacted by the virus, Allen said the hybrid schedule through the holidays is still the district’s plan. In the past three weeks, the district has seen an increase in virus cases and affiliated quarantines that mirror the rise in state numbers.
Two weeks ago the district had two active student cases and 24 pupils in quarantine. During the same time, it had four active staff cases and 12 in quarantine. That number grew the next week, to six active student cases and 43 in quarantine, with three active staff cases and 20 in quarantine.
This week, the active student cases jumped to 20 with 150 more in quarantine. The number of staff cases increased to 10 with 28 quarantined.
Allen said staff absences continue to the driving factor in the district’s decision making. The numbers vary building-to-building within the district and currently only Creekview Intermediate School is listed as being impacted at an elevated level.
The active cases at Creekview is fairly low, with one student and two staff members. And while the 16 additional students quarantined from the school is not an eye-popping number, the 11 staff members quarantined begins to impact operations.
With 13 total Creekview staff impacted by the virus, about 18% of the building’s total staff of 71 is impacted.
“It’s pretty impressive that Creekview is down 13 staff members and is still covering classes,” Allen said. “They’ve done an amazing job.”
The superintendent stressed that the administrators continue to monitor numbers, but the district is committed to maintaining some form of in-school learning.
“We want to stay in school and keep kids engaged as best we can,” Allen said.
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