Westport Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer sent this message to all students and parents a few minutes ago:
I wish to advise you of the potential for a strike by the school bus drivers employed by our bus service company, Dattco. If, in fact, collective bargaining between the bus company and the driver’s Union fails to reach resolution by midnight Wednesday, April 26, THERE WILL NOT BE REGULAR BUS SERVICE to transport your children to and from school beginning Thursday morning, April 27. The only exception will be those special education students currently accessing specialized transportation, for whom the district will continue to provide transportation during the strike.
Should the strike take place, school will still be open on Thursday. I ask you to arrange transportation to get your children to and from school, if at all possible. I urge you to consider forming car pools during this critical period. While it may be tempting to have your students exit your car in proximity of the school campus, please continue to ensure the safe drop-off of your children by waiting in line to pull up to access the official drop-off area. I also ask that any students who do not normally walk to or from school refrain from doing so during this time period.
In the event that you have no means to provide transportation for your student(s) during this period, the District will have very limited resources with a handful of drivers to pick up students individually. These ad hoc runs may not be able to get students to school on time, and may, in some instances run an hour or two after start time. Individuals seeking support for transportation should contact their respective school administration as soon as possible on Wednesday.
The Westport Police Department has arranged to provide additional traffic officers to direct traffic at high volume locations to ease the strain of traffic on our local roads and at each of our school sites.
I urge you to make every effort to have your children arrive at school approximately 30 minutes prior to their normal school start times so that all of your children’s school activities may take place in accordance with their regular school schedules. To accommodate the increased automobile traffic that is anticipated with parent drop-offs you may use both the parent drop-off area and the bus loop at each school in the morning during this period.
Staff members will be in each of our schools to accommodate and handle the arrival of students who may arrive earlier than their usual arrival times. Also, if our community does need to deal with a bus driver strike, we understand that some students may be upset if they arrive late to school with traffic delays, etc. Please assure your student(s) that they will not be penalized in any way for arriving late during this time period.
If a strike does take place, all before and after school activities at the elementary schools will be canceled.
Specifics as to the arrangements surrounding drop-offs and pick-ups and other pertinent information will be emailed to you by your building principals on Wednesday, April 26.
Should we learn before 12:01 a.m. on Thursday that a strike has been averted, we will notify all families via email and will place a message on our SNO-LINE, (203) 341-1766.
Should there not be a settlement by 6 a.m. on Thursday morning, April 27, we will notify you through a telephone message, email, and text that you will need to make alternative arrangements to get your students to school and to pick them up at the end of the day, as described above.
Again, I urge you to do your best to form car pools in the event this potential strike actually occurs. Individual principals will follow-up tomorrow with more specific plans regarding arrival and dismissal at each school.
In the event the strike occurs and extends more than one day, we will assess the viability of continuing to have our schools open based on the feedback from operations of Thursday, and the number of students for whom the lack of transportation resulted in them not attending school. No matter what, the safety of your students is first and foremost. If you cannot find a safe way to arrange for your student to attend school, please contact the school administration. In those circumstances, your student’s absence from school will not count against him/her.
Our students will follow our lead in how we handle this possible challenge. If we communicate that we have to be flexible and adaptable in our problem-solving, and our students know that they will be not held accountable for any disruption to their day caused by this situation, perhaps they will learn from this how to strategize for success instead of stress over obstacles.