WILMINGTON, Ohio — Wilmington City Schools were closed Tuesday due to a shortage of bus drivers.
Superintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart said the increase in absences was a combination of COVID-19 and non-COVID-19-related illnesses.
Parents were notified just before 6 a.m. that schools would be closed.
“I know some parents had to call off of work because they didn’t have babysitters that are set up for their kids, or you know, they relied on the kids being at school in order for them to work,” parent Morgan Mays said.
The district transports close to 1,500 students every day, according to McCarty-Stewart, and with a statewide shortage of bus drivers, Wilmington City Schools struggles to find substitute drivers.
“They’ve had a lot of substitute buses, so my child, at one point, got dropped off three blocks away from my home and he didn’t even know that area,” Mays said.
She said she’s disappointed there wasn’t more of a plan in place.
“We knew that this was already an issue, so there should have been more preparation, I think, and being able to handle this situation when it came up,” Mays said.
The district said they’ve been taking precautions. All students and drivers wear masks at all times and each bus is fully sanitized on a weekly basis. Drivers have a sanitizing spray they use in between routes.
“I didn’t realize how short-staffed that they were,” Mays said. “Now knowing that, it’s even worse.”
Wilmington City Schools is currently working on additional transportation plans to put in place in the event more staffing issues arise in the future.