I-Team 8

Pike students to return from virtual to in-person after bus driver shortage

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — In an online post, Pike Township School District’s superintendent said classrooms would return from virtual to in-person Wednesday.

On Monday and Tuesday, students learned virtually due to bus driver shortages.

Flora Reichanadter, the district’s superintendent, tweeted a statement Tuesday afternoon in a screenshot.

“At this time, our plan is to offer in-person instruction tomorrow, Wednesday, September 29th. Based upon our conversations with bus drivers, we believe that it will be possible to provide transportation. However, it is important to note that in most instances, we do not know that an employee will be out until they call in to report their absence that morning. Although we will always strive to provide in-person instruction for our families who have selected that option, because we are still in the midst of a pandemic, we are entering cold and flu season, and unexpected emergencies do occur, it is important that we continue to have plans in place, should it be necessary to temporarily transition to remote learning. If at any time, we do not have adequate staffing to safely offer in-person instruction, we will notify you as soon as possible and follow up with additional information as soon as it is available.We sincerely appreciate your continued understanding, patience, and support.”

Several bus drivers did not go to work demanding higher pay from the district. Several bus drivers declined interviews with I-Team 8 and wished to remain anonymous.

I-Team 8 asked the district what it plans to do if the bus drivers continue to report that they’re not coming to work, and if the district has had any discussions to raise the pay for their bus drivers. I-Team 8 did not hear back.

I-Team 8 also reached out to all seven Pike Township School Board members. Only school board member, Larry Metzler, replied in an email: “I do not know anything outside of our administrative response.”

I-Team 8 reached out to the School Transportation Association of Indiana to ask what it’s seeing after several local districts have reported bus driver shortages. The association replied with a statement: “While some local districts are having staffing issues, the state organization does not have a comment at this time.”

Several Pike Township bus drivers say they plan to keep calling off work; it’s unclear how long that will last.

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