The mass closure of schools nationwide in response to the COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, is also grinding school bus operations to a halt.
According to Education Week, Oregon, New Mexico, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Maryland along with D.C. are closing for at least the next three weeks. In addition, 167 individual schools throughout the nation have also announced closures and extensions of spring break.
Since President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday afternoon, 11 additional states announced school closures. They are: Alabama, Wisconsin, Washington state, West Virginia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, and Utah. But the full impact on all student transporters nationwide, especially hourly school bus drivers, remains unknown.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) announced on Thursday the use of federal funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The release states that while spring is typically when most state administrators issue statewide assessments, the DOE said it will work with states to provide some flexibility to all levels of local government due to the impact of the coronavirus.
Under the ESEA states are required to annually administer assessments in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science to all students in tested grades and an annual assessment of English language proficiency to all English learners.
The DOE explained that some schools may be closed during the entire testing window, and it may not be feasible for states to administer some or all of its assessments. That said, the DOE would consider a targeted one-year waiver of the assessment requirements for the schools impacted by these unforeseen circumstances.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued interim guidance to help administrators of public and private childcare programs and K-12 schools plan for and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
We will keep you updated on how the virus affects schools and the school bus system.