No busing for LHS students may have serious consequences for students of low income families in Loveland
By Chuck Gibson
LOVELAND, OH (July 22, 2020) – The Loveland City School District (LCSD) cut busing for Loveland High School students as part of cost-cutting measures taken in response to the recent failed tax levy.
Loveland School Bus (File)
The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded problems which may result for families of high school students in the district. More specifically, lower income households with one or more high school-aged students may be hard-pressed to provide transportation to and from in-person school. For households with multiple vehicles and multiple drivers cutting busses may only be an inconvenience. For a high school student living in a household with just one driver and no reliable vehicle, no busses presents an insurmountable obstacle. Walking to school may be an option for some, but it is not always an option for everyone – even with new sidewalks. Rain, cold, snow or other inclement weather conditions along with distance and time make walking a less than safe choice.
The transportation trouble doesn’t end with the question: How do we get these high school students to school? It starts there, but the challenge multiplies quickly as families face the decision to choose a back to school plan for their high school student for the 2020-2021 school year. For Loveland High School student families (like all LCSD student families) they must make the choice during the week of July 27, to return to in-person school, or opt for the on-line learning academy option. Their selection must be turned in to the school by the week of August 3.
Lovlenad High School building (FILE)
No busses equals no transportation which equals no choice for them. They will have no option but to select on-line learning. Some may choose that option regardless, but for others returning in person may be critical to their education success. Evangeline DeVol is active in helping address the needs of those lower income student families in the Loveland community. She has first-hand knowledge of the impact this will likely have on these kids.
“This will affect them disproportionately,” said DeVol. “These kids need to be in school more than other kids for lots of reasons.”
In-person schooling goes well beyond academics for all kids, but especially for those who fall below middle class socio-economic status. The social and emotional health and well-being is at risk for low income students who are kept home – even if just part-time. Online learning requires reliable good technology which is not always available to kids in lower income homes. These students may be in a single caretaker home where the older student suddenly is expected to care for the younger siblings. Their studies suffer and they fall behind in numbers too big to ignore. Medical issues, mental health issues, hunger and nutrition issues go undetected. Some may lose free and reduced breakfast & lunch meals.
In person, those issues can be identified and addressed by teachers and staff. Untold numbers dropped out of the remote learning just during the spring pandemic closure of schools. How many more may slip through the cracks if they have no choice other than remote learning? Again, being seen in person by trained educators makes a difference.
Evangeline DeVol is spearheading efforts to find a transportation solution for high school students from lower income families (FILE)
“School is a safe haven for a lot of these kids,” DeVol said. “They have great relationships with great teachers a lot of these kids really bond with. There are a whole lot of good people helping these kids.”
DeVol is not the only one concerned. Others have expressed the same concerns. School Board President Kathryn Lorenz brought the subject up briefly during the last Board of Education meeting.
“All I was able to do at the meeting July 15, was bring up the topic of people who are interested in helping out because we don’t have high school busing,” said Lorenz.
Dr. Kathryn Lorenz, Loveland City School Distric Board of Education President (FILE)
Lorenz posed the question about what people would be able to do to help, or what LCSD may be able to do to help, and when they would know. They are still awaiting specific guidelines from the state on how they will be able to provide busing ie: how many kids can be on a bus. The response indicates it will be the end of July before they have answers to those questions. The end of July is too late. Families have to choose their back-to-school option. Either choice is a commitment for the semester.
Generally speaking, that means a family forded to select the online academy is stuck with that choice for the duration of the semester. What happens if a transportation solution is found? Can they then make the switch to attend school in-person? There are people in the community working diligently to find a transportation solution for high school students in need. The plan and policy as it exists would not allow the change until the next semester according to LCSD Superintendent Dr. Amy Crouse. She also understands the ever-changing COVID-19 situation.
Dr. Amy Crouse, Superintendent, Loveland City School District (Provided)
“There is no imminent solution,” said Crouse. “We will always try to accommodate requests by families. If a transportation solution is found and a family makes a request, we will try to accommodate it like always. We will consider each case individually.”
Crouse reiterated the guidelines for students, staff and everyone involved will be followed in every case. She expressed concern about the difficult challenges faced by all the Loveland families and especially those families struggling with lower income or loss of job issues. It is a very real problem with a disproportionate number of negative consequences for the students of lower income families.
There may be no imminent solution, but Evangeline DeVol says the preferred option would be to contract a private busing company to transport those most in need. They would have to meet all the guidelines for COVID-19 safety and it costs money. She is shouting from the rooftops calling for the community of Loveland to do what they always do. Step up and help.
If you want to know more or can help, please email Evangeline DeVol at: firstname.lastname@example.org