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Bus routes canceled
school bus
Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Multiple bus routes have been canceled over the last few days due to driver sickness and schools are struggling during this flu season. 

At the county Education Committee meeting Tuesday night, Director of Schools Dr. Grant Swallows explained that this time of year is usually the most uninterrupted due to the lack of breaks, but this year sickness has been an issue.

“We got hit with the flu bug, strep throat bug and stomach bug all in about a week period. At one point Hickory Creek had a 37% absentee rate which is well above any time I have ever seen, even with COVID. We were hit hard,” said Swallows. “Really, with a school it is tougher even with kids being sick because you have adults getting sick and they have kids who are home sick. So it got to the point where we were having multiple classrooms each day that didn’t have a certified teacher in there or a sub. We were having to use assistants.”

Certain schools used remote learning days last week in an attempt to stop the spread of sickness in the schools.  

“We were at 30% absentee at the Middle School and every one else, Morrison, Eastside, Bobby Ray and Irving College were all at about 27% absentee rate and above. We did use our two remote learning days at all those schools. That is a new law that came into effect this year that allows us to do that by school. I felt that was important to do that by school because some of the other schools were not at that rate and we wanted to hold onto those days in case they get sick,” said Swallows.

Swallows says they would much rather the students be in school, but they were struggling with sick students, teachers and bus drivers. This week a few bus routes were not able to run.

“We are struggling to keep bus drivers. I think we had to cancel a route on Monday morning because we are having lots of sickness through our bus drivers. Again, one of those disappointing things I wish we didn’t have to deal with, but it happens,” said Swallows.