EUCLID, Ohio (WJW) – Dozens of yellow school buses are sitting empty in a parking lot in the Euclid City School District as 25% of bus drivers are out due to a COVID-19 diagnosis or protocols after being exposed to the virus.
“On late Sunday night, First Student, who is our contracted partner, they reached out to myself telling me that we have a number of drivers that now are in COVID-19 protocol,” said Superintendent Chris Papouras.
Papouras said he then reached out to lawmaker Kent Smith, who represents Euclid as part of the 8th House district.
Smith told WJW that he, in turn, reached out to Governor DeWine to explore the possibility of the National Guard being brought in to help transport students to and from school.
“The Ohio National Guard and General Harris, they’ve been asked to step up and fill the need in critical junctures throughout the pandemic and I don’t have the ability to authorize the National Guard but the governor does,” Smith says.
The situation is so dire that on Tuesday, Euclid City Schools used a calamity day for all four of its elementary schools.
Now, more than 4,000 students are still at home but attending classes virtually at least through the end of this week.
In addition to bus drivers being affected by COVID-19, there’s also a national shortage of bus drivers, with some districts calling on commercial drivers to help fill the void.
Here in Ohio, it’s the National Guard that’s being called to get behind the wheel of school buses with a goal of keeping students in class.
“It’s a logistical challenge. I don’t know if the national guard is the solution, but at this point I just want to get our kids back to school,” Papouras said.