Fairborn City Schools working bus driver union after COVID-19 causes transportation issues Wednesday

Local News

FAIRBORN, Ohio (WDTN) – Busing issues forced Fairborn City Schools parents and administrators to make different arrangements twice this week.

Fairborn superintendent Gene Lolli said Monday and Wednesday were two different situations, and now the district is working with the transportation department to work out a plan moving forward.

Lolli said bus transportation to school Wednesday was cancelled because of COVID-19.

“We had to quarantine a few bus drivers for this morning,” Lolli said. “That’s what put us in the dilemma this morning.”

This comes after the district moved all classes online Monday due to several bus drivers calling off sick and a possible unauthorized strike. Lolli said a strike may no longer be the case.

“I don’t think it was an unauthorized strike at all, but we are still investigating that,” Lolli said.

Stacey Benson-Taylor, regional director of AFSCME Ohio Council 8, the union that represents the drivers, said there was no unauthorized strike or planned strike and union members are disappointed by the district’s announcement.

“We’re disappointed the district moved forward so hastily in determining there was a work stoppage,” Benson-Taylor said. “It certainly impacts the morale of the drivers because it’s brought them under scrutiny from the community.”

Benson-Taylor says eight of the absences Monday were due to COVID-19 and at least one driver did test positive.

She said a grievance was filed Friday concerning the district’s management of COVID-19, but it’s not related to this week’s absences.

Both Lolli and Benson-Taylor said they are working with each other to reach a solution.

“The frustration over this COVID situation, the board understands that and we are trying to do everything we can to calm fears and, again, to open up the line of communication through this COVID process,” Lolli said.

The union is asking the district for improved communication on COVID-19 protocols, notifications about possible exposure to the virus, and access to PPE.

“The drivers are committed to ensuring that the students arrive to school safe and on safe and clean buses,” Benson-Taylor said.

Students will have bus transportation available in the morning and afternoon Thursday.

Buses were available to take students home from school Wednesday afternoon.

Parents say a last-minute call Wednesday morning was inconvenient as their children lost their transportation to school for the second time this week.

“The neighbors brought the kids to school, and I’m picking them up just so there wasn’t confusion about them getting on the bus after school,” parent Jolene Weiss said. “I mean, there’s definitely a lot of chaos, but we’re working with it.”

All parents said they were understanding the situation happened, as everything is unpredictable with COVID-19.

“I understand their concerns because they are in a closed environment and on the buses with these kids, so I totally understand and I hope they work everything out,” parent Rhonda Stockton said.

“If they were going to shut the school down Monday, maybe it would have been a good idea to shut the school down the entire week, or at least gave people the opportunity to know that it’s definitely a possibility it could happen again,” parent Pauline Fischer said.

Lolli said because of COVID-19 students and teachers are prepared to learn virtually at moment’s notice. He said the district will continue to work out the bus schedule.

“We’re just going to try to let everybody know what the recent is day to day as to if we do not have transportation,” Lolli said. “So we’ll communicate more efficiently with staff and parents as every day goes along here.”

Lolli said parents should not be concerned about any COVID-19 contact, and the district is working with Greene County Public Health for contact tracing.

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