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

Parents and guardians had to transport their children to Fairborn schools Wednesday morning because of issues with absent bus drivers.

Fairborn City Schools posted on its Facebook page on Wednesday morning that a number of bus drivers were quarantining due to being exposed to the coronavirus. This left the district without enough drivers to make all bus routes. The district encouraged all families to have a back up plan to get their child to school. Bus drivers did take students home on Wednesday.

Fairborn had about a third of its bus drivers call off on Monday and was forced to send all students to school remotely, said Fairborn Superintendent Gene Lolli. Students were back in person on Tuesday and Wednesday, although they had to find an alternative way of getting to school on Wednesday.

Emily Brann, who has a child in kindergarten at Fairborn Primary, said she is going to pull her child out of school because of all of this back-and-forth.

“I think all of this could have been completely avoided,” Brann said.

Brann said she plans to pull her daughter out and send her to daycare. She hopes to send her back after Christmas.

“I’m a single mom and I work full-time. I don’t have the leniency to get her to and from school,” she said. “This has been super frustrating. I am lucky because I have a back-up plan and I have a babysitter for her to go to, but a lot of other families don’t.”

Stacey Benson-Taylor, regional director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 8, which is the parent organization of the union that represents bus drivers, said bus drivers may have called off for coronavirus-related reasons, but this was “absolutely not” an authorized work stoppage or a coordinated effort on the employees part. The Dayton Public Service Union is the union that represents the Fairborn bus drivers. No representative authorized or initiated a work stoppage.

“There was obviously some concern about a positive COVID case and people were concerned about whether or not they had been exposed,” Benson-Taylor said. “There have been ongoing issues about the management of COVID cases, and I believe there was a positive case and so this may have been a response to that. I can’t say for sure what everybody’s situation was.”

Lolli met on Tuesday morning with the union that represents bus drivers to discuss the absences. The union representative who met with Lolli told him she was not aware that so many people were planning to call off that day. There is hearing scheduled on Thursday to determine whether or not this large number of bus drivers calling off is considered an unauthorized work stoppage.

Twenty-two drivers called off on Monday, according to the district.

ExploreFairborn schools say late call-offs by bus drivers forced closure; union says no strike authorized

Debby Setty, who said she is a retired bus driver from the school district, said she heard from current bus drivers that they were just as surprised Wednesday morning to get a call saying there would be no busing as parents were.

“It’s not the bus drivers' fault. They’re just human and they get sick too,” Setty said.

Fairborn schools have had more issues with COVID-19 than most in the Miami Valley.

Both the primary school and the intermediate school closed their doors and moved back to remote learning for 10 days due to issues with positive tests and quarantining within the past month. The high school is doing remote learning this week, and the football team forfeited its playoff game due to COVID issues.

Notice went out on Saturday about a bus driver who had tested positive for the coronavirus. Benson-Taylor said that since people were not sure whether they had been in contact with that person or not, some were anxious.

In a letter from Benson-Taylor to members of the union that went out on Tuesday, she said an unauthorized work stoppage would constitute a violation of union rules and could also result in discipline, including termination.

Benson-Taylor’s letter also stated that bus drivers should take the necessary precautions and follow the school district’s coronavirus policies.

Lolli was unable to be reached for comment on Wednesday.

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