By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Madison Schools officials temporarily discontinued student bus service due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the transportation department.
“We have had an outbreak of COVID-19 in our transportation department resulting in a shortage of bus drivers to run all bus routes and sufficient staff to manage our transportation dispatching center,” wrote Groveport Madison Schools Superintendent Garilee Ogden in a letter to district residents. “We will be unable to provide school bus transportation for at least the next two weeks while Petermann Transportation staff is under quarantine.”
Groveport Madison Communications Director Jeff Warner said the soonest the district anticipates it can resume busing is Nov. 23. He said the district has 69 bus routes serving elementary, middle, and high school students.
“We have reviewed our notification procedures with the Franklin County Health Department. Anyone who has had close contact with our bus drivers has been notified of the need to quarantine for the next 14 days,” wrote Ogden in her letter. “If you have not been notified that your child has had close contact with his/her driver and needs to be quarantined, it is safe to continue with normal daily activities.”
According to district officials, the schools will remain open.
“Where possible, parents may bring their child to school themselves, or students can work remotely from home using their Chromebook computer,” wrote Ogden. “In instances where students cannot get to school, they must sign in to their regular classes online to be counted as present for the day. Otherwise, they will be charged with an unexcused absence. We are committed to doing everything possible to keep our students and staff safe and to keep our operation moving as smoothly as we can.”
Currently the Groveport Madison School district is using a Blended Learning Model. This model consists of students being split into two separate groups attending school two days per week and receiving online instruction three days per week. Under this model, half the students are in the buildings simultaneously (approximately 15 students per classroom), which enables six foot social distancing to be in place. Masks are required for all K-12 students and staff. Safe health practices and continual cleaning and disinfecting are in place and group activities are limited.
According to information provided by Groveport Madison Schools, as of Nov. 9, 11 transportation employees have tested positive for COVID-19. Five staff members in the district have tested positive and eight students. There are approximately a little under 6,000 students in the district.
Updated statistics on the number of district employees and students who have tested positive can be found on the district’s website at gocruisers.org under the COVID-19 dashboard reporting system located at https://www.gocruisers.org/COVID-19Dashboard.aspx