Illnesses curtail school bus service

Illnesses curtail school bus service
A Granville Central School District bus makes a stop at Granville Junior Senior High School.

Granville Central School District has been forced to adopt the “hybrid” method of instructing and operating because of a virus-related shortage of bus drivers since Nov. 9.

The district hopes to return to the normal busing routine on Nov. 22, school superintendent Tom McGurl said on Nov. 12.

McGurl declined to reveal the number of bus drivers out but said there are 16 bus drivers for the district. The district has been actively looking for bus drivers, full-time and substitute, even before the outbreak of the pandemic.

Students able to be transported to their respective school buildings can continue to learn in-person, while those who cannot are learning remotely via their Google Chromebooks on Google Classroom.

“I don’t really love the model we’re in right now, but it’s better than being full-remote,” McGurl said via phone on Nov. 12. “It’s a huge inconvenience to parents and I get that.”

McGurl said it will be a “day-by-day approach,” as has been decision-making during Covid-19 for the last two-and-a-half years, in determining if instruction will be 100% in-person or not.

“The goal is to have the kids in school,” he said.

With the holiday season and even colder weather looming, McGurl described upcoming family parties and indoor events as something he is “very concerned” about.

Under the “hybrid” model in the first week of transition, McGurl said anywhere from 60-67% of students were in-person for instruction. Although there was a slight issue with handing out Chromebooks at Mary J. Tanner School, McGurl said that conflict has been resolved and everyone who has requested Chromebooks and remote hotspots has been assisted.

Because of parent and guardian scheduling conflicts, close to a dozen students from Mary J. Tanner and Granville Elementary School have been dropped off early at the Junior/Senior High School courtyard daily since the announcement was made, with a bus shuttle taking students to MJT and an individual walking students across the street to GES.

State Police have assisted in directing traffic on Lee Road for MJT students while Granville Police Department continues to direct traffic on Quaker Street.

Drop-off times at the three buildings are: 7:45 a.m. for Granville JSHS, 7:50 a.m. for MJT and 8:05 a.m. for GES.

Pick-up times at the three buildings are: 2:25 p.m. at the JSHS, 2:55 p.m. at GES and at MJT, 2:15-2:45 p.m. for Kindergarten and first grade to be dismissed on Lee Road, 2:45-3:15 p.m. for second and third grade on the cafeteria side of the building with second and third grade siblings able to be dismissed with the other sibling(s) in Kindergarten or first grade on Lee Road.

McGurl said it’s not solely Covid-19 forcing the transition, and chose not to disclose the specific factors, but informed NYVT Media it is a “combination” of factors.

In the span of four days, Granville’s students, faculty and staff saw significant increases in individuals quarantined and deemed “sick.”

On Nov. 9, Granville had 62 individuals placed on quarantine and 21 labeled “sick.” On Nov. 12, individuals on quarantine jumped to 81 and “sick” individuals rose to 29.

“Most of the cases we’re seeing are coming from outside school events – family parties and social events,” McGurl said. “We have seen some in-district transmission in the Transportation Department.”

Added McGurl: “Transportation numbers have always been difficult, Covid has just complicated that to deal with labor shortages. I kinda knew going into this year that if we were going to have an issue, it would be transportation, and that’s what’s happening this year…And this is not a Granville phenomenon, this is happening in other districts as well.”

For more information, visit granvillecsd.org or call the district office at 518-642-1051.