• Last modified 430 days ago (May 28, 2020)


COVID’s newest victims

Teens’ licenses may come late

Staff writer

With school officially over, driver education is the next classroom staple with major changes in sight.

And many young people, eager to begin driving, may not get their licenses— or their parents the relief of not having to taxi them around — until the question of how to teach driver ed is resolved.

Most of the five school districts in Marion County are struggling with the change.

Some are debating doing the driving portion of classes later in the year, while others plan to limit vehicles to fewer people.

Student Cadence Craig understands why schools have to limit how many people are in a vehicle but is frustrated.

“I think it’s kind of dumb, but it’s the only way to get my license, so I’m going to do it,” she said.

The Craigs live in Florence but attend Peabody-Burns and participate on swim teams in Peabody and Newton.

Classes at Peabody-Burns usually begin June 15, but the school board doesn’t anticipate social distancing requirements to be lifted until the end of June, superintendent Ron Traxson said.

Classroom instruction is feasible since participants can be limited to 10 in a room, but the driving portion will be limited to two people in a vehicle.

Not having extra people in the vehicles means not being able to ride with peers, Cadence said.

“I don’t really like it because we usually have a partner,” she said. “One of my really good friends is in driver ed with me this year, and she wanted to be my partner.”

Once classes are done it will provide convenience, Cadence’s mother, Natasha Craig, said.

“It’s nice that I’ll have two drivers now who can run around and do errands for me,” she said. “I enjoy that.”

It also will provide incentives.

“That’s the good thing here,” she said. “If you pick this thing up for me then you can go hang out with a friend. They can go travel to Peabody.”

Marion is the first district that will have to implement changes. Classes are scheduled to begin this week, and superintendent Aaron Homburg is hopeful some aspect of the program can be salvaged.

“That’s all dependent on things getting opened up,” he said. “We’ve looked at the possibility of having the classroom portion with other options for the driving. Obviously people in the front seat can’t be more than six feet apart. There’s no way.”

Goessel also is scheduled to begin classes this week but might postpone them until the school year starts, superintendent John Fast said.

“That’s going to be a challenge,” he said. “This will create a lot of other obstacles we’ll have to overcome in terms of scheduling.”

In addition to conflicts for students, basketball coach and health teacher Curtis Guhr would have to maneuver between classes and coaching, Fast said.

If the district does postpone driver ed, Hillsboro may have the answer to working the subject around school life.

Hillsboro does classes before school during fall semester and schedules driving lessons on weekends.

Because Hillsboro holds classes during the fall, it is the last district that needs a decision. But there’s no guarantee social distancing requirements will be lifted by then, superintendent Max Heinrichs said.

“It isn’t exactly a great thing, but it’s the luck of the draw,” Heinrichs said. “If we start the year out in that, then we won’t be able to have driver ed either.”

Centre, which is scheduled to begin around the same time as Peabody-Burns, is discussing the possibility of delaying its driving portion until July when looser regulations are expected.

Each district has between 20 and 30 students signed up, with 120 signed up countywide.

Last modified May 28, 2020