April 22, 2024

Dozens of bus drivers call in sick forcing suburban school district to pivot to e-learning

OSWEGO, Ill. — In person learning was canceled for students in a suburban school district Tuesday after dozens of bus drivers called in sick.

Thirty-three bus drivers in Community Unit School District 308 in Oswego called in sick.  Another 15 bus monitors stayed home.

“This is definitely an unprecedented absence for us,” district spokesperson Theresa Komitas said. “Something we had to learn on the fly.”

Parents said they received calls around 5:45 a.m. There was no advance warning and district administrators were force to cancel in-person learning for mostly 10,000 junior high and high school students.  

The district is the seventh largest in the state and serves nearly 18,000 students from Oswego, Aurora, Joliet and Plainfield.  

Other districts like Chicago Public Schools are experiencing similar staffing shortages when it comes to bus drivers. 

WGN News reached out two drivers with Oswego‘s Transportation Association, the union that represents the drivers. Union leaders said they will have more information later.  

An announcement about Wednesday’s classes is expected to be posted on the school’s website.

The district told WGN News they’re still working to understand how this happened. They refused to speculate on possible reasons.

A letter was sent to parents late Tuesday from Superintendent Dr. John W. Sparlin in which he states he anticipates that tomorrow will be “a normal school day.”

Thank you for your flexibility and cooperation today as we worked quickly to problem-solve the last minute changes for school instruction. At this point, we anticipate tomorrow as a normal school day. However, in preparation for any future transportation staff shortages, our district leadership team has worked diligently to build plans for potential scenarios. 

Our priorities today were to find ways to build multiple scenarios based on transportation staff availability to prepare for future shortages, while maximizing the amount of in-person instruction available to students. We know that students learn best when they are in school and engaged in person with their instructors and peers.