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Dorchester Dist. 2 awaits bus driver COVID test results as students return to class

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 3:13 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2021 at 7:42 PM EDT
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DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Dorchester School District Two will return to in-person learning on Thursday, September 16 after seven days of virtual learning.

The district’s school board implemented changes to quarantine protocols and bell schedules. But the district’s Director of Transportation Steve Shope says there is still a lot of uncertainty regarding how many bus drivers will need to be in quarantine less than 48 hours before school resumes.

“Over the last several days we’ve found that more have gotten sick,” Shope said. “I’d like to be able to give you that number, but I can’t.”

As part of the adjustments, the district changed the bell times where elementary schools start at 7:15 a.m., Middle schools start at 8:30 a.m. and High Schools start at 9:30 a.m..

“We think that the expanded bell times will help us with that, will allow us to make the double runs and not cause such a problem,” Shope said.

Right now, there are 15 bus driver vacancies out of 167 bus routes. The district is also now looking to hire on 15 additional full-time substitute drivers.

Shope says because thousands more students are using school buses this year than were last year, the only way to make this work is to have two students per seat and not have a capacity limit.

“The demand for school bus service would exceed capacity rapidly if we were to go with that two thirds restriction,” Shope said.

The district is also looking to outside sources for help provide more drivers. But for now, they are asking for patience as they work through this difficult time.

“Our priority of course is to be safe first and we are doing everything we can to be on time. It was a real struggle for us with the numbers that we were experiencing.”

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