Busing remains the obstacle to bringing back students

Central Valley Superintendent of Schools Jeremy Rich would like to see all students back in the building. The problem, he said, is that CDC and state health protocols limit school bus capacity to one student in a seat. Unless that changes, Central Valley cannot bring back students for more days of in-person learning. He explained the situation in detail in the following:

I wanted to take a moment to clarify how current CDC and state health protocols are affecting Central Valley's ability to bring back more students for in-person learning.

As of this writing, the guidance is allowing one student per seat on our school buses.  This limits CV's ability to bring back more students every day who rely on school transportation. We have already maxed out our bus runs—we cannot squeeze another grade on our school buses. Unless we can put two students in a seat, we cannot bring back grades 7-10 more than the current two in-person days each week.

Let me be clear; this is frustrating. I look around and see other schools bringing back students. I know people are asking, "If other schools can do it, why can't we?"

The smaller Herkimer County schools have had the capacity to bus students who wanted to attend school in person. Under the old 6-foot social distancing requirements, however, they lacked the classroom space to bring those students back. New guidance has changed social distancing from 6 ft. to 3 ft. This allows those smaller schools to fit more kids in a classroom, where before that was the limiting factor for them.  Those schools benefit from the 6ft/3ft change in guidance, but Central Valley does not. Changing social distancing does not help us because it does not allow us to put more kids on buses. CV needs a guidance change that allows us to put more kids on buses for it to affect us.

So, we remain the only large school in the region that cannot bus all of its kids for in-person learning. Please understand that everyone is working to comply with the guidance that keeps our schools open and our communities safe. Thus far, we have done well in our area with keeping schools open.  We have to hope that as people become vaccinated and COVID cases fall, guidance with transportation may change that will allow us to do things differently. In the meantime, we are doing the best we can with the guidance that we must follow.