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Lewiston schools going remote due to bus driver shortage

At least three people on the transportation team staff have tested positive for COVID-19.

LEWISTON, Maine — Students in Lewiston will be learning remotely this week due to a bus driver shortage.

Lewiston's Superintendent Jake Langlais sent a letter to the school community on Sunday explaining that among the transportation team staff, there were at least three people who've tested positive for COVID-19 and two more with medical issues that prevent them from working.

Langlais said he knows the transportation staff has done everything it can to keep in-person learning possible but the ability to get students to and from school has become "too much to surmount." 

He also said there is an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases among students and staff absences. He said there were 142 staff absences last Friday, and as of Monday, 108 students tested positive.

Scarborough High School is also fully remote this week. Superintendent Sandy Prince said there are nine positive cases and said 200 students are in quarantine.

He said the district has also had a challenge with bus drivers, but said he is fortunate families have stepped up.

"They are providing transportation to their own students to schools and that's from the first day of school, so without their support and assistance, we'd be really challenged with busing," Prince said.

In regards to the bus driver shortage, a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Education released a statement:

"There has long been a school bus driver shortage at both the national and state level, and this has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. Hiring and retaining school personnel is a local responsibility, but transportation directors and superintendents have worked collaboratively to try and address the issues. Some have offered bonuses, established paid training opportunities or have partnered with other workforce development organizations to find, train and retain drivers."

The Lewiston Public School District and Scarborough High School plan to reopen for in-person learning after April vacation. 

Langlais said there will be limited food available and will provide food like they did last spring. 

All schools except LHS will be remote distribution locations from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. daily. 

The Root Cellar will also have meals. 

This will be for April 12-16 only. Nutrition will not be available during April break.

   

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