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'We just had to pull the plug'

Highland didn't have enough bus drivers

The Highland Community School District had to switch to a virtual model because of the lack of bus drivers. (Caitlin Yamada/ The Union)
The Highland Community School District had to switch to a virtual model because of the lack of bus drivers. (Caitlin Yamada/ The Union)
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RIVERSIDE — The COVID-19 pandemic is causing schools to operate like the driver of a manual transmission vehicle.

Teachers, superintendents and staff have to quickly shift gears to keep the year running smoothly.

Unlike driving, the changes are not consistent or predictable. That has occasionally caused the grinding of the gears

Early this week, the Highland Community School District quickly had to shift to virtual learning, after only a day of hybrid.

Due to a variety of health reasons, the school was down to four bus drivers to cover six routes on Tuesday. They were still able to pick up all of the students.

But that changed

Monday night at 10 p.m., one of the bus drivers reported a fever.

“We just had to pull the plug,” Superintendent Ken Crawford said.

The administrative team, maintenance, nutrition, principals and others met on Tuesday to discuss a solution.

“We kicked it around as much as we could, and we just could not get a stable plan,” Crawford said.

The most efficient plan was switching to a completely virtual model.

Crawford submitted a waiver to the Iowa Department of Education to continue virtual learning into December.

On Wednesday morning it was approved.

The school had previously planned how the day would look for students in a virtual, online-only model.

Because the teachers were already operating in a hybrid model, it was easier to quickly adjust. Though it was a quick change, Crawford said because of the high positivity rates in the county, the staff was preparing for this already.

“There’s one thing about planning it, and there’s another about doing it,” Crawford said. “That’s always a transition.”

The staff still is working in the school. Crawford said there is team planning, Zoom meetings and everyone is working to make sure students are well equipped to learn.

The virtual model will continue until at least Dec. 3.

The school nurse still is tracking student and staff data and hoping the holiday does not add more to the sickness.