Some Wahluke school bus drivers may be idled

| September 22, 2020 1:00 AM

MATTAWA — Some Wahluke School District bus drivers could be placed on standby, at least temporarily. Wahluke School Board members approved the standby plan at the regular meeting Sept. 8.

In a later interview, interim superintendent Andy Harlow said standby is a form of layoff, and bus driers can file for unemployment. But standby bus drivers remain employees of the district and the district continues to provide health insurance.

Wahluke opted to start the school year offering instruction online only, the result of the continuing COVID-19 outbreak.

Harlow said some bus drivers should return to work next week, as the district has started bringing in children for one on one assessments. Others should start returning to work before the end of September, when district officials hope to start bringing children to school in small groups. The district has submitted a plan to the Grant County Health District to have in-person instruction in small groups for specific students.

Board member Craig Sabin expressed concern about the lack of activity for kids, especially since most sports and activities have been canceled. Harlow said district officials are looking at options, including activities that would be done in small groups.

District officials had been discussing putting some employees in the food service department on standby also, but Harlow said the meal service schedule meant that wouldn’t be necessary.

Karen Arellano Cruz, student representative to the board, said kids had asked her if they would be required to follow the school dress code since school is online. Harlow said the dress code would not be enforced but that kids must be dressed appropriately for school, even when class is online.

The district’s dress code requires students to wear pants and shirts in specific colors. Harlow said district officials and board members will be reviewing the dress code during this school year.

In other business, board members will vote on whether or not to change the board’s meeting schedule at the Sept. 22 meeting.

Board members would still meet twice per month, but Harlow suggested converting one meeting into a work session. The board meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays. Most business would be conducted at the first meeting each month, with the second meeting set up as a work session.