Two more school districts are facing a harsh reality when it comes to widespread workforce shortages and COVID-19. A shortage of bus drivers has lead to one Herkimer County School District to make the move to remote learning and one to make serious adjustments.

In a letter to parents, officials with the Herkimer Central School District announced that due to bus driver shortages with the Birnie Bus Company through December 22nd they are moving students to the remote learning model. For Tuesday, December 14th the district will hold a Superintendent's Day where staff is asked to report and students do not need to. The remote learning will remain in place through the remainder of the week, for now.

While learning will be remote, buses will be available for transporting athletes to and from athletic competitions. The letter from the district states that athletic contests will continue as normal. The district also announced the middle and high school choral concerts will be rescheduled, as well as the Academic H ceremony. At the elementary school, officials say the "Shop with a Cop" event and Miss Kirkpatrick's play will go on as scheduled.

As a result of this issue the district told community members in their letter that they will activate three of five emergency days, giving students two full weeks off. Prior to the holiday break, students will have December 20-22 off. Following the winter recess, officials say they intend to return to in-person learning on January 3rd.

In the Central Valley Academy School District, parents are being asked to bring their own children to school in some areas of the district, while busing will be limited for others. Superintendent Jeremy Rich released a message to the school community asking parents for help with transportation of children beginning Tuesday, December 14th. The COVID outbreak at the Herkimer Birnie Bus terminal in charge of transportation for all of Central Valley's Mohawk and Ilion village runs.

Superintendent Rich is making this request in an effort to avoid moving to the remote learning model for the schools. District officials say,

Rather than close school down and move to virtual, Mr. Rich has asked the community to become part of the solution to this huge problem. The district will only transport students on its own buses - Bus runs 4, 5, 9, 11 and special education runs. All other students will need to walk to school, ride with parents or friends, or drive themselves. The district will transport BOCES and VP-Tech students to and from their programs only from the CVA campus.

If there are parents who are not able to transport students not transported in the above runs, then they will be able to sign in to classes using "Zoom." Superintendent Rich says,

This will not be perfect. But we have already lived through the struggles of remote learning and I am hoping our community will give this a try in order to get a majority of students in front of their teachers in the classroom. I believe in our staff and I believe in our community and I believe we will find success in our struggle.

The hope is when the Birnie Bus Company resolves their issue that regular routes can resume. The bus driver shortages are causing several issues, but it's not exclusive to bus drivers. COVID-19 is definitely a factor and hopefully, a solution can be found.

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