Staffing shortages brought on by COVID-19 caused some buses to suspend service in the Quesnel School District last week.
Cancellations were announced multiple days between Feb. 7 and Feb. 11.
“We kind of have been expecting to have absenteeism in our different departments depending on how the pandemic is in our community,” said director of instruction – human resources Perry Lofstrom, noting employees are expected to stay home when they are sick.
“It just seems to have hit our transportation department right now.”
Recent weather events have also impacted bus travel, with all runs cancelled Friday, Feb. 4, after a significant snowfall.
In an update shared on Facebook Superintendent of Schools Dan Lowndes said they are working collectively with community partners who are also struggling with staffing shortage to navigate weather events.
“As a community, it is important for us to understand the impact the current (COVID-19) variant is having on workforces across the community,” he added.
“I again ask for patience; we will work through this challenge.”
On an average day, Lofstrom said the district makes it best to know who might be absent and tries to fill those roles, starting with their casual staff.
If there is not enough casual staff, the maintenance department is called upon.
“We even have a custodian or two that may have bus driving credentials, so we draw from those people and sometimes even our manager and the mechanics drive,” Lofstrom said.
“We do try to keep all busses running if we can.”
If a run has to be canceled, strategy plans to overlap another bus run or even extend one are put in place where possible.
Lofstrom hopes things will be better next week.
“Historically, we’ve had (the) flu or things that have gone through departments and have caused these kinds of stressors in the past, but it just seems highlighted now in particular with our situation,” Lofstrom said.
“We’ve always tried to respond to the needs that we have at the time, and again we’re trying to be mindful of keeping kids safe and getting them to school if we can and getting them home.”
According to Lowndes, efforts to keep schools open and safe for all students and staff have so far remained successful.
Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.