ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - One local school system is making an unusual request of parents. Rowan-Salisbury Schools will be operating on a two day a week in-person school schedule, with three days of remote learning, but they’re asking parents to find an alternative to having kids take the school bus.
“We’re here to serve the needs of every student, transportation wise, we don’t like the fact that we can’t do that,” said Transportation Director Tim Beck.
The school system is asking parents to see if they can find an alternative to taking the bus due to the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing with COVID-19 protocols greatly reduces the number of students who can ride the bus.
“24 maximum,” Beck said. “Our buses typically transport 72 elementary students, 44 middle school and 48 high school, so 24 students per bus really puts us at a disadvantage.”
Reactions from parents have been mixed. Crystal Kirchbaum has two children in public schools, and they chose the option of going to class two days a week and learning remotely on three days.
“It’s been very hard for them, especially during this time to be away from their friends, I think it’s important that they get back to school,” Kirchbaum said.
She says that for some families, the school bus may be the only alternative.
“There’s a lot of parents who totally depend on the bus and the transportation system that the school system offers,” Kirchbaum said. “The social distancing is an issue on the buses, but so is it in the classroom, we’ve got to overcome this.”
School officials are hoping that enough parents will be able to find an alternative.
“We’re trying to get them there safely,” Beck said. I know that’s what the state is doing with the 24 capacity limitation, I understand it’s about safety and that’s why we’re adhering to that.”
Having enough qualified drivers is also a struggle, according to Beck.
“A lot of our drivers are elderly folks who are health-compromised, so their health or family members at home that they end up going back to, that’s a concern for them,” Beck said.