WARRICK CO., Ind. (WFIE) - The Warrick County School Corporation announced Sunday that a significant number of its bus drivers would not be able to drive their assigned routes Monday due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Superintendent Brad Schneider confirmed one bus driver tested positive for COVID-19 and eight other drivers were deemed close contacts. In total, nine routes across six different schools were affected Monday.
“It was just coordinating," says Karissa Mercer, a mother of four students in the Warrick County School Corporation. “Seeing who needed help, who needed to grab who. There wasn’t a lot of time to kind of prepare, so we are fortunate we had help and were able to make it all work, but yeah, it was an interesting morning.”
Families were encouraged to drive their children to school, if possible. For many parents at Sharon Elementary School, they did just that.
“I had to get here early today," says parent Jessica Goad, "because I figured all the parents would be here early. So I like was, I’m getting there extra, extra early. I don’t want to have to sit way back there.”
School officials say they double-routed many buses and they will do the same moving forward.
Superintendent Schneider says now that those nine drivers are in quarantine, the next two weeks could look similar to Monday. He says he will work closely with the transportation department to see if there is a better alternative to help both students and parents.
“Like tomorrow, if the buses are shut down tomorrow," says Goad, "I’m going to have to leave early to make sure I’m there and everything.”
Parents we talked to Monday say they now have a greater appreciation for their bus drivers and school officials.
“I do, I don’t have any complaints," says Mercer. "I think they’ve done great keeping the kids in school. The virtual option has been great, so yeah, I don’t have any complaints.”
“I mean they’ve done a wonderful job planning out everything and having safety nets all across the board," says Goad, "but I guess they just didn’t think about the bus drivers.”
Warrick County Schools officials say they’ve created a plan to help with transportation. In a statement to parents sent Monday, district officials say they’ve developed an alternate plan to transport students.
They say they’ll run routes twice, and combine routes. Officials say that could cause students to arrive to school later than normal.
Officials also say all parents should have a plan in place.
WCSC sent out the following statement on Sunday evening, which was posted to Castle High School’s Facebook page:
We were notified Sunday that a significant number of the Castle area bus drivers who serve the WCSC will be unable to drive their assigned routes due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. This will affect both AM and PM routes on Monday - 10-12-2020.
The schools impacted by this situation are listed as follows: (1.) Castle High School; (2.) Castle North Middle School; (3.) Castle South Middle School; (4.) John H. Castle Elementary; (5.) Newburgh Elementary; and (5.) Sharon Elementary.
We are strongly encouraging parents who are able to transport their students to their respective school to do so.
The buses that will be affected could be operating as much as 45 minutes to an hour behind schedule due to complications with getting substitute and/or alternate drivers.