Berkeley school district pauses bus service amid staff COVID-19 exposure

Bay Area

BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) – School buses are not picking up students for the next several days in an East Bay school district because members of the transportation staff were exposed to COVID-19. 

School buses are not operating this week for close to 1,400 Berkeley elementary students due to three separate incidents last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday involving transportation staff being exposed to COVID-19. 

They are now quarantined through Thursday.

“Well, it caught us by surprise. We received the information on Friday night,” Rana Cho said. 

With no backup plan in place by the school district, families looked to each other for help getting kids to school, says the co-president of the Emerson Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association, Rana Cho.

“More than the school, I’m disappointed in the district. That there were no remedies, no preventive planning. The next thing that comes to mind is what happens if this happens with food services?” Cho said.

Although the Berkeley Unified School District has contingency planning for employee absences, the spokesperson explains why in this case there was no official backup plan for such a widespread transportation service disruption.

“Unfortunately, in this particular incident impacted not just our drivers but our scheduler and our router and our dispatcher. Other staff members who typically would have stepped up. This was not anticipated. The level of exposure,” spokesperson Trish McDermott said. 

However, the school bus service continues as normal this week for special needs students with individual education plans.

“Of course we want everyone to get to school so we are really happy to see that most of our families were able to find ways to get their students to school today. We expect by Friday to have enough staff back to run a full operation,” McDermott said.

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