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Bullitt County schools navigate staffing issues and COVID-19 concerns on their first day of school

Bussing has been one of the bigger problems for Bullitt county heading into the 2022-2023 school year, and leaders remain both transparent and optimistic.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Bullitt County Public Schools (BCPS) joined several other districts in the area, Wednesday, in welcoming back its students for the new school year.

While optimistic, school leaders acknowledge the challenges they face as fall classes get underway. 

"It's a challenge: transportation; and we're not alone in that," BCPS superintendent Dr. Jesse Bacon said.  "And we're also going to ask our folks to be patient with us." 

Patience is of the upmost importance on day one for Bullitt County schools.

Struggling with a bus driver shortage, they've condensed routes, cutting 20 from last year.

"We've gone from 100 to 80 to try and be more efficient and to try and allow us to provide great service to all of our students and families," Bacon said.

Bus driver shortages plaguing districts like Bullitt County ahead of school year

BCPS leaders want to remind parents to keep in mind, there will be slight tweaks up to and beyond the first day of school when it comes to bussing. You can find those changes by checking out BCPS's Bus Finder system.

All 26 Bullitt County Public Schools are entering a school year where Bacon says consistency is key after two-plus years of pandemic-learning.

"Obviously we'll ask them to be agile if we do have to change as a result of the circumstances surrounding us," he said. "But we're really after a more consistent year for our students." 

According to BCPS's latest guidelines, released in August 2022, masks for students are optional right now. Though, the school district does recommend families follow the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations

"We're still going to have increased cleaning protocols, sanitation protocols, wiping down high touch areas—those types of things," Bacon said.

The district will continue to track numbers through a COVID-19 dashboard on its website.

Protesters push back against JCPS mask policy

As for staffing levels, Bullitt county is starting classes with about a dozen open positions to fill, which comes after a busy summer of hiring.

"A lot of hiring we've been doing. Very excited about all our hires this year,"  Bullitt East High School principal Nate Fulghum said. "We've done a lot of teaching and staffing in general." 

That's coming from a 100% fully-staffed Bullitt East High School.

Just down the street, at Mount Washington Middle School, things look a bit different.

"With subs we are covered for [Wednesday]. It was stressful at times getting everyone hired," Mount Washington Middle School principal Tim Ridley said. "We've made some great additions to our staff—some people from different districts, some instructional coaches have decided to come back to the classroom." 

So as students return to the classroom, school leaders admit not all is perfect but it wont curb their enthusiasm for the year ahead.

"My one word for this school year is gratitude," Ridley said. "Just thankful to welcome our kids back, our staff members, all the hard work they've done— our community." 

"I'm just ready! A lot of anxiousness, a lot of anticipation," Fulghum said. 

"We're really hopeful that starting this school year, this will be the first uninterrupted school year for our students and our staff," Dr. Bacon said. 

Because this year, consistency is key.

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