Elementary and middle school students living within two miles of their schools would be ineligible for bus service under a proposal district officials are considering to comply with social-distancing rules.

Currently, bus service has been available to elementary and middle school students who live at least 1 mile from their schools.

Dealing with COVID-19 has gone beyond health concerns to include areas such as school transportation, said Superintendent Mike Zalar, who has proposed the change.

"Transportation will be a challenge if we have to maintain physical distancing on the bus,” Zalar said. “There is no way we can transport all of our students the way we would under normal circumstances.”

He added, “We may need to extend that to 2 miles so we can transport as many students as possible under the anticipated transportation guidelines.”

The district does not know how many students would be affected by a change to two miles. It could be significant. The district would also need to add more crossing guards, he said, saying the district does not know that number yet, either.

Any change hinges on the state guidelines, Zalar said.

"We continue to look for Gov. DeWine to provide guidelines regarding the reopening of schools for the next school year,” Zalar said. “I know parents, students and our staff are anxiously awaiting the release of our education plan for next year.

“The district is working on several possible flexible schedules that we believe would accommodate the anticipated state guidelines around physical distancing for staff and students.”

District officials plan to discuss the idea further at the July 15 school board meeting at the district offices on Butternut Ridge Road. School board President Terry Groden said officials do not want to increase the walking distance but they have to consider different options to satisfy new safety guidelines.

A decision must be made before the 2020-21 school year starts, so parents can be notified and plan accordingly, Zalar said.

Contact this reporter at assoceditor@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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