Sunday, December 10, 2023

HF School went virtual for 2 days due to bus staff shortage; parents transporting now

By Zander Frost, Chronicle Staff Writer

Hudson Falls Central School District had to shift all its in-person classes to virtual, first on Friday, Nov. 12, and then also on Monday, Nov. 15.

On Monday, the district said it would reopen for in-person school on Tuesday, but not be able to provide transportation.

“We’re dealing with some staffing shortages that are making it so we can’t get our kids in for in-person learning,” Superintendent Dan Ward told The Chronicle Friday. “The main obstacle right now is transportation staff.”

The Chronicle asked Friday if parents will need to drive their children to school.

“A lot of our families are doing that now,” Mr. Ward said. “Certainly, we’re looking at having to ask more families to drive their children or walk their children if they’re close by if possible, but we’re not there yet.”

Unfortunately, by Monday, the school reached that point. Parents were asked to transport students to school. Those who couldn’t get to school went back to doing school virtually on the Internet.

Staff shortfalls is an ongoing problem, Mr. Ward said. “Every day a substitute shortage….we have an overall staffing shortage, just some positions that we have not been able to fill. They aren’t causing us to be closed…but certainly it’s an overall shortage.

“And it’s, I would say, not unique to Hudson Falls. I think that’s all schools in our region.”

What’s causing the shortage? “I don’t have any hard data. I want to say it that way,” Mr. Ward said. “But I do know that many schools operate on retired folks for some of these positions that are considered part-time. And when COVID hit some folks decided that they were going to leave the workforce, and some of them haven’t come back yet.”

“So many schools in our region are living on the edge,” Mr. Ward said.

“Every single day we’re a couple employees, in many cases, from making the difference between being able to have all of our kids in person or having to do different models where kids are not in person…

“Our staff…across all positions, top to bottom, and our district, people are working really hard to help us get kids in school to provide the best education we can, despite all the challenge.”

Mr. Ward said, “Cases are on the rise in our region, and certainly in Washington County. And anything that families and community members can do to slow the spread. We would be very appreciative because that’s gonna help us keep school open.”

He said, “Between yesterday and today, 17 positive cases between students and staff. It’s positive cases, as well as people being symptomatic. And people awaiting COVID testing.”

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