The school district has been experiencing a domino effect of problems since the outbreak of COVID-19. The most recent domino to fall is the shortage of bus drivers. As a matter of fact, Oswego High School had to host school online due to the lack of bus drivers on Sept. 21. The immediate change to online led to more problems within the school for teachers having to figure out how their day was going to go.
With all these problems in mind, Mrs. Jennifer Keto, social studies department chair and AP Seminar teacher, talked about the struggles she has had throughout the year so far and on that specific day.
When asked about her morning on Sept. 21, she responded, “I got up at 5:30…and then I checked my emails right away and I saw that we had an email” from the principal of Oswego High School, Mr. Grays, stating the school would be “going to go remote today.” She shared her reaction and said going remote “was obviously a big shock.”
This shocking change so early in the morning sent Mrs. Keto into “a little bit of a panic mode,” but also other teachers and substitutes. Mrs. Keto, being a department chair, had “to reach out to [her] staff, [her] department members”, and make sure “all [her] teachers were ok and ready and set to teach that day remotely.”
Her other staff members had similar reactions to the quick change of schedule and they asked questions like, “‘Ok, why is this happening… is it a coincidence, was it a planned thing on the bus drivers part?’” to Mrs. Keto.
However, while they had interest about why the occurrence was taking place, they also asked questions about, “’here’s what I was going to teach today, how can I change it?’” Mrs. Keto had to answer those problems for her staff, substitutes, and herself.
“I wanted to do a discussion in class today, should I change the whole thing, or should I just continue with the discussion,” Mrs. Keto said.
These questions had to be answered quickly in the morning due to the change of schedule which stemmed from the bus drivers’ problems.
After taking care of her staff members, she also had to go around and make sure the substitutes that were filling in were ready to teach. However, Mrs. Keto shared some of the substitutes, “had no idea how to…get into the google links,” due to a lack of preparing them for the situation of that day.
This single day highlighted the problems the school district is facing with finding bus drivers for school. The lack of bus drivers led to the change of schedule and teachers scrambling to fill classes and change their plans for the day. Theresa Komitas, the director of communications and public relations for School District 308, stated why there are such big problems in the school district, specifically with bus drivers.
“At the start of this year there were routes collapsed in order to reduce the number of overall routes the district runs,” Komitas said.
The lack of bus drivers has left the School District 308 Transportation Center unable to accommodate students in a way that decreases the risk of COVID-19: as less buses are available, the same amount of students must be put into a smaller number of buses, making overcrowding a large obstacle in the response to transportation for students.
“This makes buses very full; however, without additional drivers available, it is necessary,” added Komitas.
Without a proper number of bus drivers, the district does not have any information whether or not the incident that happened on Sept. 21 will be a repeating issue. The amount of drivers and monitors missing that day was a large number that most likely will not be repeated again out of coincidence.
“Involving 24 drivers and 15 monitors, that is roughly 30% of our drivers,” Komitas said.
The number is unlikely to occur at another time, but the risk still stands that any day can become remote at the will of only a few dozen.