Superintendent Message - Bus Change Decision

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To Our Springboro Families:
 
In my previous Superintendent’s Message, I mentioned a video would be posted the week of Dec. 14 with more information, regarding the busing change at the end of the school day for Grades 6-12 beginning on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. I felt it important to communicate these details a bit earlier than previously planned, as it appears there is concern amongst some of our community members whom this affects.
 
First, let me state that this was no easy decision. While this school year has brought forth many great challenges for our students, teachers, staff, bus drivers, administrators, and parents, we are continually adapting how to best maintain a safe learning environment for all our community members. This includes students learning both in-person and at home. There is no perfect solution. As we’re all aware, this unfortunate situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown everything we know up in the air. As a district, we have to continually change and adapt. We do so with the health, safety, and academic success for all our students, teachers, staff, and community members in mind.
 
Why Is the Bus Schedule Changing for Grades 6-12, When It Was Working Just Fine?
While, on the surface, it appeared our busing routine was working just fine during the day, the reality is our district, like many others, was faced with a shortage of staffing bus drivers. This had the potential to severely impact our bus routes throughout the day. While the one-hour early release schedule for Grade 6-12 Model A students was designed to give our teachers necessary time with our Model B students during the day, this impacted the daily schedules of our bus driving staff. This caused an enormous strain. A strain that was not able to be maintained going into Quarter 3.
 
On October 29, 2020, our community received a letter/email from the district about the possibility of bus driver shifts or routes not being able to be covered. This was due in large part to COVID-19 concerns, in addition to staff turnover, as there were not enough candidates applying to fill the necessary bus driver positions. The district advertised a great deal to help recruit, and while some applications were received, there were still shortages despite our best efforts.
 
Our current bus drivers, mechanics, and transportation dept. front office took this increasing workload on to keep our bus routes going, something a lot of people in our community depend upon. The time and effort put forth by these individuals has been truly amazing this year. Also, thankfully, our district was able to help fill gaps in staffing during Quarter 2 by bringing on other bus drivers from neighboring districts that were fully remote, who were not running any bus routes in their district.
 
With the potential for routes to be canceled with very little notice, the district decided to push back the Grade 6-12 bus pick up. This is an effort to alleviate some of the strain on our bus drivers, as well as maintain the same quality of education for our Model B students, who would continue to have their time with a teacher during the afternoon.
 
To be perfectly transparent, if we did not explore this option with a bus schedule change, there would be the very realistic possibility of having to cancel numerous bus routes. This would result in short notice to our parents about canceled routes, and large numbers of students not being able to be picked up or bused home; along with greater transportation shortages and/or further days of full remote for our entire district, strictly based on staffing shortages.
 
How Will The One Hour After Dismissal Look for Students Waiting at School?
It’s best to view this one hour after dismissal as a study hall. In my initial letter, it was stated, “Any Grade 6 - 12 student awaiting bus transportation home, after dismissal, will wait in a commons area (gymnasium, cafeteria, etc.) in their school building, spaced apart, with a staff member supervising the area.” Just as is the case with lunch during the day, students who are awaiting bus transportation will have assigned seats in the cafeteria, supervised by a teacher, staff member, or administrator, and will use this time to complete homework assignments, read, etc. Students will not be up walking around interacting with one another, nor will they be permitted to sit in groups or gather together. Face coverings will be required at all times, per the district’s Face Coverings Policy. Again, this will look very similar to a study hall setting.
 
In the case that the cafeteria does not allow enough space for all our students waiting on bus transportation, we will not simply pack everyone in. An area such as the gymnasium, auditorium (SHS), etc. would be used. Any location used will be supervised by a teacher, staff member, or administrator, and will have assigned seating for students that are spaced apart. The time spent in these areas after school, awaiting bus pick up, will be used for students to complete school work.
 
“Request to Change Model” Form, Model A Grade 6-12 ONLY - Deadline Extended to Dec. 16 (4:00pm)
If, after reading the reasons addressed above, you would like to change from Model A to Model B (Grade 6-12 Only) we want to provide you with that option. Since this information was not released prior to the initial deadline, we understand this may impact your decision. Therefore, the deadline for the “Request to Change Model” Form has been extended to Wednesday, Dec. 16 (4:00pm). This applies only to Model A Grade 6-12 students who wish to now switch to Model B, as a result of the new bus pick up schedule. Whether you have already filled out this form and wish to change based on this new information, or you did not previously fill out this form, but wish to change now, you may do so.
 
 
NOTE: If you are not changing Models, you do not need to fill out this form.

We understand this is not ideal. It’s not perfect. We are continually working with our State and County health departments, our staff, our teachers, and administrators, to provide a safe learning environment for everyone involved with Springboro Schools. At times, the decisions we make impact those who represent this great community. This situation we’re all in is unfortunate. The COVID-19 pandemic has made life difficult in a number of ways, education being no exception. We will continue to adapt, and again thank you for your understanding as these changes are necessary to continue to provide a great educational experience for all of our students.
 
Sincerely,
Larry Hook, Superintendent
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