DAVENPORT, Iowa —
Update: 2:45 p.m.
In a news release, DSCD officials confirmed that all bus routes will be available again on Tuesday, Jan. 4, allowing classes to resume as normal.
Schools in Davenport surprised parents Monday with an announcement that classes had been cancelled because there weren't enough drivers to run school bus routes.
Superintendent TJ Schneckloth says the district didn't have much of a choice. The district contracts buses and drivers from Durham School Services. This morning 14% of staff called in sick with COVID issues. On top of that, the district was already short 10 drivers.
"The late notice this morning, and the number of COVID related illnesses this morning, were the cause we were not able to reroute the students this morning safely," Schneckloth said. "Adding in the fact that it was a very cold morning, we did not run the risk of having a student standing at a bus stop for longer than they should."
The district worked today to make a plan for tomorrow to ensure students make it into school. It includes bringing in Durham workers from other parts of the state as well as pulling district employees that are licensed to drives buses to cover the 79 routes.
"We've worked very diligently today to put together a plan to maximize every available person that we have inside of our district," Schneckloth said. "We are utilizing even people from the office to go out on routes. We even had an employee from our own technology department that previously worked in the bus barn and he's going to be driving tomorrow."
Schneckloth says a lot of it has to do with the difficulty of getting drivers licensed. He says the hiring process takes about four to six weeks.
"It's very difficult to cover a bus route because of the requirements they have for their licensure," Schneckloth said.
Durham released a statement saying in part, "The safety of our passengers and our employees is our number one priority, and we want to ensure that, especially in these cold winter months, we arrive on time to our scheduled stops. Today, we did not feel this could be accomplished."
For families that will have their students routes affected, a call will come from the district.
"Any family that is going to have their transportation altered, whether it be a different route, has already been contacted, or will be contacted very soon," Schneckloth said.
The Davenport Community School District informed parents early Monday that classes were cancelled because of a school bus driver shortage. According to a Facebook post from the district Monday morning, a large number of bus drivers called in sick with COVID-19-related issues. With so many out on short notice, it was too difficult for routes to be adjusted.
The district's transportation team met Monday afternoon to create a plan for Tuesday, Jan. 4, according to the Facebook post.
All Saints Catholic School and Trinity Lutheran School also announced closures Monday because of the shortage.
Students had been slated to return to school Monday following a two-week holiday break.