RICHMOND — Buses for the Richmond schools will be canceled for the third week in a row because of ongoing COVID-19 cases, despite Regional School Unit 2 officials saying they had hoped the buses would be back in service by Tuesday.

Superintendent Tonya Arnold sent a message Monday night to families with news that the buses would be unable to pick students up for the rest of the week. Arnold said she can not “provide any details that would implicate any specific employees.”

“What the notice said is all we can offer,” Arnold said in an email to the Kennebec Journal on Tuesday. “The original situation is not yet resolved, so we need to continue with the current plan until it is.”

The situation Arnold referred to took place Nov. 7, when Regional School Unit 2 told families the buses would be unable to run for two weeks. Arnold said in the same letter announcing the bus driver situation that the district had “three Covid cases,” but wouldn’t say if those cases were in the transportation system or in school buildings. Karl Matulis, principal of Richmond Middle and High School, said at the time that the busing issue was “due to the direct impact of COVID-19 on our staff.”

District officials said at the time they hoped to get transportation back by Nov. 16.

Earlier this year, Regional School Unit 38, which serves the Readfield area, had transportation issues related to COVID-19, including a documented positive staff case in the transportation department.

The Richmond schools — Marcia Buker Elementary School and Richmond Middle and High School — are offering remote learning to students who do not have a ride to school. When news first hit about the transportation issue, community members offered rides to help bring students to school.

Other municipalities in the district — Dresden, Hallowell, Monmouth and Farmingdale — are not impacted by the bus runs. But Arnold announced last night Hall-Dale Middle and High School students will learn remotely Thursday and Friday, because transportation runs need to change due to a “lack of substitutes.” Arnold said in the notice to Hall-Dale Middle and High School families more information would be coming, but bus times would be adjusted.

“The district, like others, could benefit from having more substitutes available and willing to be on call for work in all departments,” Arnold added in her letter to the Kennebec Journal.

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