SPRINGFIELD – School officials announced bus issues have mostly been resolved as the city is preparing to reopen schools for in-person learning for the first time in a year.
On Friday afternoon school officials announced First Student, which is contracted to provide school busing for the city, was facing an unexpected driver shortage. They warned parents that there may be widespread delays in pickup and drop-off times and there could be changes to students’ bus numbers.
The bus company was scrambling to find drivers or other solutions, Superintendent Daniel Warwick said in writing. He promised to continue to update parents.
On Sunday the bus company notified administrators the bus schedule should run on or close to the original schedule, he said.
“We’re just elated to hear this good news from First Student this morning,” Warwick said. “Obviously, they worked feverishly all day yesterday and through the night to address this issue and we are so appreciative that we believe our families can now expect a regular first-day-of-school bus experience.”
Springfield students have been learning remotely for a year since schools closed in mid-March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But recently the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education ordered all public schools to return to full-time in-person learning at a minimum for children in kindergarten through grade 5.
Families can continue to have their children learn remotely for the remainder of the school year.
Springfield received a waiver that allows children to begin under a hybrid system that gives children a mix of in-person and remote learning so they can ease into in-person classes and work out any problems. The district will begin its hybrid re-entry plan with pre-k through fifth grade starting April 5 and return to a full, five-day week on May 5.
Sixth-graders will return Monday under the hybrid model, but will transition to five days a week on April 10. Seventh- and eighth-graders will begin with a hybrid model on April 26 and will go full-time on May 10.
English Language Learners Level 1 and high needs special education students — as well as some students who have had interrupted learning, such as some children of refugees — will return with their grade, but will be immediately starting at five days a week.
There is no date for high school students to return yet but some 10th- through 12th-graders at Putnam Vocational Technical Academy will be returning to the school to complete necessary vocational hours starting April 5.