GOWANDA — After five days of remote learning, Gowanda Central School returned to online learning at the beginning of last week. However, the move to remote learning was not due to a high density of COVID-19 cases. Rather, the switch to remote learning occurred because of the ongoing bus driver shortage Gowanda is facing.
“We had a crucial number of bus drivers absent that we just couldn’t do our runs appropriately,” said Gowanda Superintendent Dr. Robert Anderson.
In regards to COVID-19, Anderson said they’d handle it on a case-by-case basis by building, which includes any potential pivot to remote learning or a different model. Dr. Anderson added that no matter what, they will make all the efforts to keep grades kindergarten through fourth in person.
“That’s a difficult age group to teach remotely,” Anderson said.
Anderson also disspelled rumors that the school was planning a long-term pivot to remote learning next week.
In terms of what the school can do to alleviate some of the problems the bus driver shortage is causing, Gowanda School Board member Max Graham said he received a lot of responses and concern from parents. According to Graham, one common trend of the pivot to remote was parents suggesting they themselves could fill in taking their students to school.
“Some things that were proposed to me… is the opportunity to allow parents to drop their students off,” Graham said. “If there are three or four runs that can’t be made because we’re short on those bus drivers, can we reach out to those parents and see if they can bring their kids to school instead of shutting down.”
Graham said this potential solution would allow the community to come together, acknowledging that it does take a community pulling together to keep everything running smoothly. And while Anderson appreciated Graham voicing the concerns of these parents, there are logistical reasons that solution isn’t exactly feasible.
“It’s an interesting point and something we had considered,” Anderson said. “But it really comes down to equity. Some parents have the wherewithal to bring their students to school and others don’t. Now we’re put in a position where some kids have the opportunity to have in class instruction while others are going to struggle with it.”
Specifically, students with special needs would be put at a disadvantage by this potential solution. So, while Anderson acknowledged it makes sense on paper, and is even something Cassadaga did earlier this year for a day, it would be too difficult to work out logistically.