ROME, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — There’s a bus driver shortage in virtually every district. In Rome, the superintendent said on any given day they’re down four to five drivers. The numbers keep dropping.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had a pretty sharp increase in the number of bus drivers that are testing positive for COVID and/or quarantined as a result of contact,” said Superintendent Peter Blake.
Blake said there are 5,500 students in K-12 and roughly 70% of them utilize school buses. For that reason he had to make the tough decision.
“With the shortage of drivers available to get kids to and from school in a timely manner, we made the decision to go remote for the next week,” Blake explained, “Let them clear their quarantines and get back at it the following week.”
He alerted the school community with a letter. Student athletes will be provided information on getting to after-school practices and competitions.
His message to parents, “The biggest concern or complaint we hear right now is ‘well, my kid doesn’t ride the bus, why can’t they keep coming to school?’ People don’t totally understand that if we can’t get everybody to educate them in person then we can’t do that for anybody,” Blake said.
He said if parents have questions they can contact their child’s principal or reach out to the district office.
In a letter sent to parents in the district, Superintendent Peter Blake informed them of the district’s decision.
“This decision does not come lightly as we understand what a vital part of education in-person learning experience are for our students and how our schools support families throughout the community. However, without the ability to transport students, we cannot continue to keep schools open for in-person learning.”
Blake also sent out a list of bullet points for parents to keep in mind while their child is home learning remotely next week:
- Daily instructional schedules will follow the traditional in-person bell schedule.
- All pre-k programs will continue to operate in-person (the early childhood program does not use school transportation).
- Supported Learning students and general education students who attend full-day out-of-district programs will continue to be transported to their programs on a daily basis.
- Supported Learning students from RFA who attend half-day programs at BOCES will be notified in the near future regarding transportation to their programs.
- CTE students from RFA who attend BOCES programs half-day may continue to attend their BOCES program in-person, if they are able to self-transport.
- Grab and Go meals will be available at all elementary school buildings each school day from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
- Student athletes will be provided information in the near future regarding transportation to/from home for after school practices and competitions.
- All staff will be reporting to work through the duration of this event and teachers will instruct students from their classrooms.
- All extra-curricular building activities can continue to operate throughout the duration of this event.
You can read the full letter below: