Area schools see busing problems for different reasons, some COVID-19 related

Fairborn school bus
Fairborn school bus

Fairborn, Kettering and Troy schools are having problems transporting students due to a lack of bus drivers and coronavirus concerns.

Fairborn and Troy city schools will not bus students to school Tuesday because of a number of bus drivers are quarantining or tested positive for COVID-19.

Kettering, meanwhile, has a “crisis shortage” of bus drivers as it returned to in-person instruction Monday for the first time since March, said Kari Basson, Kettering’s head of community relations.

Kettering City Schools has a shortage of bus drivers. COVID-19 is a factor, but not the entire issue, officials said. FILE
Kettering City Schools has a shortage of bus drivers. COVID-19 is a factor, but not the entire issue, officials said. FILE

Credit: FILE

Credit: FILE

Kettering’s problem involves six schools, is expected to continue and is not directly due to — but complicated by — the coronavirus, Basson said.

Fairborn doesn’t have many substitute bus drivers on a good day, so having bus drivers quarantining makes things worse, said Pam Gayheart, the district’s spokeswoman. About 10 bus drivers were quarantining, Superintendent Gene Lolli said.

The district also did not have busing Monday to Fairborn Primary, Fairborn Intermediate, Baker and Fairborn High School.

ExploreSchool bus driver shortage complicated by COVID pandemic

“The district is working on a solution to the problem and we realize this is tough for families so we wanted to communicate quickly so that you can make other arrangements,” the post said.

Kettering schools has been holding remote-only instruction since March, when Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine shut down schools due to the coronavirus. FILE
Kettering schools has been holding remote-only instruction since March, when Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine shut down schools due to the coronavirus. FILE

Credit: TREMAYNE HOGUE / STAFF

Credit: TREMAYNE HOGUE / STAFF

For families not able to arrange transportation, remote learning will be available through Google Classroom, the school said on its Facebook page.

Lolli said the district would know more today about whether to cancel busing for the week or whether they would have enough drivers.

School districts in the Dayton area and statewide have been experiencing bus driver shortages for years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the issue, according to those in the transportation industry.

Lolli said he understands frustration of parents.

“It’s frustrating to us, too,” Lolli said.

The district said COVID has put many people “in a bind.”

ExploreSchool bus drivers quarantine, Fairborn asks parents to transport kids on their own

“We surveyed our parents and they said they wanted traditional school. You’re going to have a few coronavirus outbreaks when you’re doing traditional school,” Gayheart said. “We are trying to communicate as early as possible so that families can have a ‘Plan B,’ especially as the winter months are coming.”

In October, Fairborn had about one-third of its bus drivers call off the same day and the district was forced to send all students to remote learning. Students were back in person the next day, but one day that week they had to find an alternative way of getting to school.

Monday’s shortages in Kettering affected John F. Kennedy, Prass and Southdale elementary schools,, as well as Kettering and Van Buren middle schools, and Fairmont High School, Basson said.

“Right away, transportation in the district is being impact by … COVID-19,” Superintendent Scott Inskeep said in a video posted Monday on the district’s Facebook page.

“We need to ask you as families to have a backup plan and be prepared in the event that transportation might not be available for your child,” he said.

One option, Inskeep said, is for parents to find a way to get their child to school.

Also, “remote (learning) is available to your child,” he added. “So it isn’t as if no instruction will be there for your child and we want you to take advantage of that.”

Preschool students returned Monday, according to the district. From Monday through Nov. 20, both the elementary and secondary schools are following a hybrid regimen before being able to return for four days a week starting Nov. 30, according to the plan.

The Kettering school district is asking anyone with questions to call 937-499-1770.

Due to staffing shortages in the transportation department as a result of COVID-19 virus, the Troy City Schools will be closed for in-person learning Tuesday. All in-person students will learn from their regular teachers using the Canvas program on their school-issued Chromebooks, the schools said in a statement.

This will not affect Troy online students, who will continue learning online as normal, the school said.

“We will return to in-person learning as soon as possible. We ask that families continue to monitor their phones, the school website and social media for updates,” the school update says.

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