Ansonia, Derby, Seymour schools return to remote learning due to school staff, bus driver shortage

New Haven

ANSONIA, Conn. (WTNH) — Ansonia, Derby, and Seymour students were forced to stay home and learn remotely Monday due to a school staff and bus driver shortage.

Superintendent of Ansonia Public Schools Dr. Joseph DiBacco said in a statement Sunday, “It is a combination between our bus company not having the staffing to bring our students to school and we have some staff that will be out tomorrow.”

He said this comes after school staff at Derby and Ansonia got their second COVID-19 on Saturday at their combined educators’ clinic (which includes bus drivers).

“The call to go remote is for our community and staff – it is much better to inform the school community the night before – instead of families and staff scrambling in the early morning hours to make arrangements,” Dr. DiBacco added.

In a letter to the school community Sunday, Derby’s Superintendent of Schools Matthew Conway echoed Dr. DiBacco’s note to the Ansonia community and added that, in addition to the shortage of bus drivers hit with side effects from the COVID vaccine, Derby schools will be moving to remote learning Monday because, “Derby Public Schools was recently made aware that 1 student from Derby Middle School, 1 student from Bradley School have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.”

“Based on this information as well as additional staff quarantined due to contact tracing coupled with some staff experiencing side effects from the vaccine, Derby Public Schools we will be operating in a Remote Learning Day tomorrow March 29, 2021,” the superintendent said.

Derby’s mayor Richard Dziekan was on board with the decision and understood why the school bus drivers wanted to proceed with caution. Mayor Dziekan cited his own reaction to the COVID vaccine after he got his shot after testing positive for the coronavirus back in Octoer.

“My reaction was for about 24 hours,” he told News8. “I ended up with a 102 temperature, fever, chills, headache……so I can understand why the bus drivers, if they come down with this, they’re not going to feel that good. They’re not going to have a hundred percent of their attention on their driving, taking care of these kids.”

Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti met with Mayor Dziekan today and says although he received several emails from angry parents, Cassetti thought it was the right call for both cities superintendents to go to all remote learning for the day.

News8 has been able to confirm in-person learning will resume in both Ansonia and Derby tomorrow. As of the filing of this report, we’re still waiting to get confirmation from Seymour.

According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, COVID case rates are going up in the state and the Naugatuck Valley is one hotbed of activity. DPH says Waterbury has the second highest COVID case rate in the state.

Waterbury’s Director of Emergency Management, Adam Rinko, thinks that might be because younger people ages 20 to 29 are experiencing an uptick in COVID cases (they’re going down among those in their 70s and older) and he says numbers have been going up among the younger age group since about St. Patrick’s Day and since the weather has been getting better.

“If you are unvaccinated, The CDC guidelines, state guidelines, all guidelines are very clear that you still must wear a mask and be socially distanced,” Rinko said.

“I see, when I go out,” said Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti. “A lot of people without that and I’m wondering — it’s only going to increase if they don’t follow the guidelines the state and The CDC is having us do.”

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