GOWANDA – After five days of distance learning, Gowanda Central School returned to online learning at the start of last week. However, the switch to distance learning was not due to a high density of COVID-19 cases. On the contrary, the shift to distance learning has happened due to the current shortage of bus drivers that Gowanda faces.
“We had a crucial number of bus drivers absent that we just couldn’t make our journeys properly”, Gowanda Superintendent Dr Robert Anderson said.
Regarding COVID-19, Anderson said they will deal with it on a case-by-case basis while building, which includes any potential pivot to distance learning or a different model. Dr Anderson added that no matter what, they will make every effort to keep the Kindergarten to Grade 4 classes in person.
“It’s a difficult age group to teach at a distance” Anderson said.
Anderson also dispelled rumors that the school was planning a long-term pivot to distance learning next week.
Regarding what the school can do to alleviate some of the problems caused by the shortage of bus drivers, Max Graham, a member of the Gowanda School Board, said he had received a lot of responses and concerns. from parents. According to Graham, a common tendency for the pivot to distance was for parents to suggest that they could arrange to take their students to school on their own.
“Some things that have been offered to me … it is the opportunity to allow parents to drop off their students”, Graham said. “If there are three or four trips that cannot be made because we are running out of bus drivers, can we contact those parents and see if they can bring their children to school instead of closing. “
Graham said this potential solution would allow the community to come together, recognizing that it takes a community that comes together to make things run smoothly. And while Anderson appreciated that Graham voiced these parents’ concerns, there are logistical reasons why the solution isn’t exactly achievable.
“This is an interesting point and something that we had considered” Anderson said. “But it really depends on fairness. Some parents can afford to bring their students to school and others cannot. Now we are placed in a position where some children are given the opportunity to have classroom instruction while others are going to struggle with it. “
More specifically, students with special needs would be disadvantaged by this potential solution. So while Anderson admitted that it made sense on paper, and that it was even something Cassadaga did earlier this year for a day, it would be too difficult to work logistically.