Some Shelton school bus routes suspended due to quarantined drivers

City of Shelton school buses parked in Shelton, Conn. June 7, 2018.

City of Shelton school buses parked in Shelton, Conn. June 7, 2018.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — Shelton schools continue to be affected by rising numbers of positive COVID-19 tests, with the latest blow coming from school transportation.

The school district was seven buses short for its Tuesday morning run due to 13 drivers who were out — five quarantined due to COVID-19, officials said. This came after the district was short two buses on Friday.

The schools impacted Tuesday were Shelton High, Mohegan School and Perry Hill School, Interim Superintendent Beth Smith said.

Parents of students on those buses were asked to drive their children to school and pick them up on Tuesday. The two schools impacted Friday were Elizabeth Shelton and Booth Hill schools.

“If parents of children on those two buses are unable to do so, we have asked them to call their child's school's office and have them distance learn today, with no attendance penalty,” Smith said.

Shelton High parents with students on buses 18, 6 and 41 are asked to drop off and pick up their children for the rest of the week. The district also asked parents of students on bus 54 to drive their children to school and pick them up Tuesday.

Perry Hill School parents of students on bus 54 were asked to drive their children to school and pick them up Tuesday. Bus 4 at Mohegan School was also impacted, according to Smith.

Ken Nappi, head of Shelton Student Transportation Services, said Friday he had hoped that all the buses would be “back on the road” by Tuesday. Monday was a full distance learning day for the district.

Nappi said the five quarantined drivers did not test positive for COVID-19 but possibly came in close contact with someone who is infected. Nappi said the company is using four spare drivers and two managers to help cover the routes.

Smith said Shelton Student Transportation Services has attempted to hire additional drivers and has not been successful in its request for other districts to provide drivers and buses.

“Due to the pandemic, companies do not want their drivers driving outside their areas,” Smith said. “In addition, it has been difficult to hire additional drivers. Currently, the managers at the bus yard are driving to fill in.”

Along with bus drivers, the district also has 40 teachers who have been quarantined, Smith said, one of the reasons grades 5 to 12 will not be combining cohorts, as happened in grades pre-K to 4 earlier this week.

“Thirty-eight are related to the positive cases of COVID-19 in our schools,” Smith said of the staff quarantines. “Two of the staff quarantine cases were from contact outside of school. We are trying to keep our schools open under these difficult circumstances.”

At Perry Hill School, where students are grouped into dyads of students and teachers, two entire dyads are being asked to go to full distance learning in order to keep the school open for the rest, Smith said.

Shelton High and Shelton Intermediate schools have both been on full distance learning since Oct. 13. Shelton High is reopening for students this week, while SIS will remain on full distance learning until no later than Oct. 26 because there are a lack of building substitutes for the quarantined teachers.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com