Every organization across the nation is feeling the pressures and effects of staff shortages and Fordland R-III schools is no exception. Due to unprecedented events, the Fordland School district closed their doors Jan. 19-21 due to transportation issues.
The district is equipped with a total of six bus drivers and one substitute bus driver on hand. Unfortunately, the combination of four drivers out due to COVID-19 and single digit temperatures resulted in the school being closed three out of the five day school week. Fordland’s superintendent Chris Ford, said it was a difficult decision for the district.
“There was a possibility of running an early route and a late route, but with the temperatures so low in the morning, we just were very uncomfortable with having students potentially be out on the side of the road waiting for a bus in single digit weather,” explained Ford. “So in reality, all three days are canceled just because due to lack of bus drivers.”
The district recently battled a plague of illnesses, including COVID-19, in Dec. 2021 resulting in an early release to winter break. Ford expresses that the district is constantly preparing and learning how to navigate through their new reality.
“It is just life that we're experiencing right now,” added Ford. “There has been a crunch on bus drivers and substitutes for the last year and a half. We've been fortunate to have a good transportation department and solid drivers that we can count on, but it is just the challenges we are going through not only be due to COVID, but do due to the workforce.”
The district follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines, thus those who test positive must quarantine five days from their first signs of symptoms. Ford hopeful his staff remains healthy as they are a vital part of the school’s success
“We have an incredibly dedicated staff.” said Ford. “They're dedicated to providing the best education that they can provide. In our district, we count everybody as an educator, whether they're teaching in the classroom, serving lunch, a secretary, custodian, or bus driver. It takes a truly a village to run a school district.”
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