Tioga County Schools are open for full in-person learning, and despite a few transportation related hiccups no major issues have been reported. According to many district officials there are always going to be a few minor issues with busing the first few days or so, as the district’s transportation department gets up to speed with new routes.
“The first day of school buses can run a few minutes ahead or behind, but that sorts itself out,” said Dr. Eric Knolles, superintendent of the Waverly Central School District, adding, “Routes do change every year, and you plug it into the computer and sort it out as you go. The schedules will be fully set on Monday so we have a couple days to work through them.”
In the Owego Apalachin Central School District the first day of school was Sept. 9, with masking mandated for all persons over the age of two indoors. According to district officials things went smoothly in terms of transportation and masking, and with no major delays reported. Luke McEvoy, who handles public relations for Owego, noted, however, that there were mild delays, but normal for the first day of school.
For teachers and students masking will be optional outdoors, which means teachers have been actively encouraged to take their classes outside as often as possible.
“We believe that the best place for our students is in school, in person, every day, which was something we were able to accomplish across the district,” said Corey Green, superintendent for the Owego Apalachin Central School District in a prepared statement.
While not officially allowing for remote learning versus in-person, teachers have been given the option to allow students who are absent to virtually attend class.
Last month the school district also announced the launch of the OA Virtual Academy for students in 7th through 12th grade. Details on OA’s Virtual Academy can be found at www.owegopennysaver.com/PS/2021/08/27/oacsd-launches-virtual-academy-option-for-7th-12th-grade-students/.
To help iron out transportation issues, Owego has also launched an app called My Stop that allows families to track their child’s bus and get an anticipated arrival time. McEvoy added that there is a shortage of bus drivers, and while there is adequate staffing for the current routes the district is actively seeking new drivers.
“This is not a problem that is unique to us,” McEvoy added.
The Candor Central School District reopened on Sept. 8, and according to district officials did so smoothly both in terms of transportation and masking. As is the case with every school in the state, indoor masking will be required for all individuals over the age of two and also on buses as well. Candor has released a masking chart showing when the mask is required for certain positivity rates and under what circumstances.
As it stands, Tioga County has a positivity rate considered to be of high transmission, or red, which is the highest level, meaning the chart calls for masking even outdoors, stating it is strongly recommended but not required.
The Tioga Central School District reopened on Sept. 8, and according to district officials both transportation and masking went along without a hitch.
“The kids did very well with it,” officials stated.
Like districts throughout the area masking is required indoors and on busing, but will remain optional outdoors.
“We recognize the frustration the seemingly constant changing guidance brings; as has been our goal from the beginning, our plan is to provide every student with the very best in-person teaching and learning,” said Joshua Roe, superintendent for the Tioga Central School District.
For the Waverly Central School District, which opened on Thursday, Sept. 9, there were minor reports of buses being too late or too early, but other than that no major issues were reported, according to Knolles. “We had no major issues with masking or transportation,” he stated.
Despite the inherent limitations of masking and other COVID related protocols, Knolles stated, “It went wonderful, all the kids are tucked in their classrooms and ready to go with lots of smiles; it seemed like a regular first day of school.”