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Cancellations continue for ML school bus routes due to COVID-19

by R. HANS MILLER
Staff Writer | January 25, 2022 1:05 AM

The Moses Lake School District canceled eight bus routes Monday morning in response to bus drivers and bus driver assistants who had COVID-19 or reported close contact with positive cases of the disease.

“We will be in the woods until this latest wave of (the omicron variant) lightens up,” said Jeremy O’Neil, MLSD’s chief operating officer.

This is the fourth school day in a row the district has had to cancel routes due to the uptick in COVID-19. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the district shut down 13, 15 and 12 routes, respectively. The district expected to only have three routes down Monday, but cases and contact with the disease over the weekend shut down an additional five routes.

Requirements for isolation after exposure have kept bussing staff out for five to 10 days, O’Neil previously told the Herald. However, the Herald found out staff may return to work regardless of vaccination status if they meet specific criteria after having COVID-19. And, those who have not received a positive diagnosis, but have come into close contact with someone who has or had COVID-19 are required to isolate for five days. For more information, go to the district’s website at https://bit.ly/MLSDCOVIDISO. While those guidelines are the general policy, district spokesperson Claren McLaughlin said each incident of exposure is handled on a case-by-case basis.

The district has asked residents to apply to become a substitute driver by visiting the district’s website at www.mlsd161.org or by stopping by the district’s transportation office to complete an application.

The district’s website will list bus cancellations as needed, and O’Neil said the district is working to provide the services it can during this current wave of the pandemic and anticipated staffing issues.

“We have also been informed of new COVID-related absences in the department that will continue to beleaguer our operations for the short term,” O’Neil said.

(Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect correct information on isolation requirements.)

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