WENTZVILLE, Mo. – The Wentzville School District announced Sunday night that 16 bus routes would not be operating Monday due to a lack of bus drivers, because of COVID-19. The district said bus routes will still be affected Tuesday and Wednesday.
Superintendent Curtis Cain said he anticipates the routes will be back to normal next Wednesday, Nov. 4, because that is when many drivers are set to return to work after quarantining. The district does not have school from Thursday, Oct. 29, to Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Superintendent Cain anticipated that 13 or 14 bus routes would be canceled Tuesday, but said the number of impacted routes could change. The district is rotating which bus routes are canceled.
“We found out over the course of the weekend that we saw a number of drivers and aids that simply broke the barrier,” Cain said. “We don’t have enough folks that are healthy at this particular point in time, that are either quarantined or positive when it comes to COVID, that’s been our challenge and we’ve just been fighting to keep it together.”
The district has 145 bus routes. As of Monday afternoon, 30 bus drivers and 23 aides were out due to COVID-19. Each of those numbers increased by one during the day Monday. Superintendent Cain said multiple people who are not normally driving busses have been helping out.
“We have office staff that are driving busses, we have folks that are working in our garages, mechanics and other folks, that are driving busses, anyone that we can get to drive busses, are in fact already doing so,” he added.
He said rotating the bus routes that are impacted is the least impactful option while still remaining in school 5 days a week.
“Our folks have been working nonstop to keep coming up with different scenarios and different plans, there’s other things we could have done, they were more impactful to our school community, shutting down, altering start and end times, even delaying starts, we looked at all those scenarios, this one is least impactful to our district as a whole,” he said.
Some Wentzville parents said they had to make last minute changes, including taking the day off work because of the canceled bus routes.
One parent said she wishes the district would have communicated the backup plan in advance.
“They should have already planned for this, that’s my opinion, I mean our tax dollars are going toward this, if they don’t have a plan in place for something like this then why didn’t they have that implemented way before time,” Wentzville School District parent Amber Sullivan said.
The district said they are still figuring out if a student’s absence because of the canceled routes would be considered an excused absence.