COVID curbs school bus transportation in Johnston; the student transport service is now restored

By RORY SCHULER

UPDATED:

Many members of Johnston’s already depleted pool of eligible, volunteer school bus drivers are now isolated in quarantine.

Earlier this week, suddenly parents who rely on school bus transportation in Johnston to get their kids to school had to scramble to find another option.

Then, on Wednesday evening, the district announced that the problem was resolved and that bus service would return on Thursday.

“(Tuesday) afternoon we were notified that some of our bus drivers were close contacts,” Assistant Superintendent Julie-anne Zarrella said Wednesday morning. “We reported this news to RIDOH and they let us know where we are now. We do our best to keep our students safe and in school. This situation was very unexpected.

Zarrella wrote to parents with “an important update” late Wednesday night.

“I’m happy to share good news with everyone,” Zarrella wrote. “As of tomorrow, all buses will run as usual. We are able to safely transport ALL Johnston students for the remainder of this year. »

“Students attending St. Rocco’s and Trinity will still require their own transportation until further notice,” the message to parents continued. “Thank you to Durham Bus, JPS Facilities, Nurse Valerie, our administrators and Johnston Police for their help in expediting this process and keeping our students safe. Finally, thank you to our parents and guardians for your understanding as we enforced our COVID protocols.

Parents lined up outside Johnston Open Schools on Wednesday morning to drop off students.

The Johnston Police Department stepped in to help keep the situation as smooth as possible.

School administrators expected the problem to persist after the holidays.

On Wednesday night, Zarrella was relieved that the situation was resolved.

“We are ready to go tomorrow,” she said. “I am delighted !”

Sarah Dyer Barnes Primary School in Johnston closed this week after test results revealed more than 20 cases of COVID-19 among students and staff.

District administrators face multiple staffing issues, virus outbreaks and contact tracing, and now the transportation dilemma.

Since the start of the school year, the district has struggled to hire and retain school bus drivers.

“We were already short of four pilots, and now we have 13 pilots due to COVID/quarantine protocols,” Zarrella said Wednesday morning. “Hence the recent result. This morning went very well despite the lack of buses. We hope that the dismissals will go just as well.

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