Students in Seminole County returned to classes on Tuesday, September 7 after two weeks of distance learning.
The decision to switch to a distance learning model for two weeks beginning on August 25 came after half of the 15 bus drivers in the school system tested positive for COVID-19.
“We were fine as far as our students, we just didn’t have the drivers to get all of our kids to school,” said Superintendent Mark Earnest.
Now that all the drivers and students have returned, Earnest said he’s hoping to avoid another shutdown. He said he’ll be watching numbers closely in the next few weeks following the Labor Day weekend.
Before the shutdown, there were 92 students in quarantine. Earnest said currently, there are three.
After starting the year with 16 bus drivers, Earnest said he’s realizing how much of an impact staff has on the whole school system. The district lost one bus driver, after he took a teaching job elsewhere.
Shortly after that, five drivers tested positive for COVID, with two more pending results.
“We sanitize our buses every day, twice a day. We’re wearing masks, gloves and we try to keep family children sitting together where they don’t spread it form one to the other when we can, and we separate them as we can,” said Rob Blackburn, the Director of transportation for the school district.
Routes have been combined in order to accommodate the limited number of drivers, and Blackburn said at any given time there are 50 to 60 children on a bus.
While students and staff are back to in-person learning, Earnest said he’ll do his best to keep it that way; as long as there’s enough staff to make it happen.