REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (WCMH) — Staffing issues continue to plague central Ohio schools. Reynoldsburg City Schools is starting a second week of school with a portion of its students learning remotely from home.
The district is facing several challenges and this week, it’s transportation.
The district started last weekend knowing it would be short drivers, but that multiplied by Sunday.
Superintendent Dr. Melvin Brown said coming back from winter break with climbing COVID-19 cases has been a challenge.
“It’s been difficult knowing the numbers of people who are out,” Brown said.
Pre-K and 9th through 12th graders are back in remote learning to balance the bus driver shortage across the board.
“Many of those people are either positive, or ill, or what you, or on medical leave, so it could be a number of different things,” Brown said, adding before the weekend, he knew of eight drivers being absent. That doubled by Sunday.
One student, who did not wish to be identified, is set to graduate in the spring. He said it feels like his sophomore year all over again.
“It makes wanting to do my assignments hard because I really don’t know what I’m doing, so it’s been a lot more stressful managing stuff,” he said.
To get back on track with staff, the district is openly calling for help.
“I would love to hire 10 (bus drivers),” said Chris Reed, the district’s executive director of business.
The district hosted a transportation job fair Monday for bus drivers. It is also looking for volunteers to help as lunch and recess monitors.
“The reason why our job fair ends at 2 today is because all our administrative [transportation] staff is getting back on buses this afternoon to drive,” Reed said. “They’ve been driving every day — every morning and every afternoon.”
Brown said the goal is to have everyone in class safely, but the district needs the staff to make it happen.
“If we have to continue to do this, we’ll be looking at some alternative plans in terms of who might be remote and who isn’t now,” he said.
When asked about going back in person soon, the student said, “I hope so, fingers crossed, yeah.”
Brown said during a typical school year, the district’s current pool of drivers would be enough, adding that any hires made now would not be temporary. The district will help with training and obtaining a CDL license as well.
Brown said the district is already looking toward next week and what it will look like in terms of in-person learning, hoping to offer an update later this week.