Reynoldsburg City Schools students had an unexpected day off today, Nov. 5, because a large number of bus drivers called in sick.

Although several social media sites erupted with speculation about a “bus driver sickout,” that is not the case, Superintendent Melvin Brown said.

“I’ve had conversations with union representatives and no one has alluded to anything like that,” he said.

The district is currently in negotiations to renew a three-year contract with the Reynoldsburg School Support Association, which expired June 30. It covers bus drivers and support staff members employed by Reynoldsburg City Schools.

Brown said employees are continuing to work under the terms of the expired contract.

The district sent emails to all parents early this morning to notify them that school had been cancelled after 14 bus drivers had called in sick by 5:15 a.m.

“Some called in sick last night, so we knew we would have at least 11 or 12 out and we already had three bus drivers out for bereavement,” Brown said. “We thought we’d be OK at one point last night, but then a few more called in sick this morning.”

With 14 of 52 bus drivers unable to report to work, finding enough last-minute substitutes was impossible, and students would be waiting too long at bus stops, Brown said.

“Whenever we have a request for subs, we make plans much earlier than the day before,” he said.

He said school is expected to be open tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 6.

School board President Joe Begeny said the decision to close school was made early “to avoid having kids waiting hours at the bus stop.”

“Central Ohio is lacking in bus drivers, so when your frontline drivers are out and there are not enough subs, then you have a problem,” he said.

Negotiations for the new RSSA contract are generally going as planned, he said.

“We’ve had to reschedule a couple of times because we can’t get together during the school day - it has to be outside of the school day,” Begeny said. “But otherwise, we are still negotiating a new contract.”

As far as transportation is concerned, parents should not hesitate to send children to bus stops Nov. 6, he said.

“I’ve been told that all the buses will be cleaned and disinfected, to be on the safe side,” Begeny said. “And as far as the last time I talked to anyone, we are 100 percent on the go for tomorrow morning.”

Parents may get the latest from school district administrators on the district website at www.reyn.org or on the district Facebook page, Reynoldsburg City Schools.

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