School Bus Transportation Update, August 12, 2021
August 12th, 2021
On Monday, August 30, 2021, HCPSS schools will welcome approximately 58,000 students back into our school buildings amidst many challenges that linger while the pandemic continues. One such challenge is a significant shortage of bus drivers.
Despite the efforts of partner organizations and groups across the county this summer to assist bus contractors in attracting more drivers, HCPSS contractors currently have only 80% of the drivers necessary to cover all routes, which equates to 93 current vacancies. School districts in many of our neighboring counties and across the United States are experiencing a similar driver shortage.
In order to provide transportation services to all eligible students by using the existing buses and drivers available, many bus routes and bus stops will look different than what families have experienced in past years.
To accommodate the shortage in drivers, buses will run double routes for some schools, picking up and dropping off students in groups. For example, a bus would pick up and drop off students assigned to Group A and then circle back to pick up Group B. This will create a larger-than-typical window of time between when the first students are dropped off at school and the time instruction begins. The first group of students will be dropped off at school approximately 30 minutes prior to the arrival time of the second group. All students will have at least 10 minutes for breakfast prior to the start of the instructional day. The same process will take place after school with the goal of no more than 30 minutes between the time the first and second groups leave school.
Students who are at school and awaiting instruction or bus pickup will be supervised by HCPSS staff. Please note that this will not impact the number of instructional hours students receive.
Though families are used to receiving their bus schedules two weeks prior to the start of the school year, HCPSS asks for your patience and understanding as we work through challenges with developing bus routes for this school year. The bus locator will be available on the HCPSS website by Tuesday, August 24.
When the full bus schedules are finalized and available online, all bus riders will have scheduled pickup and drop-off times to support families in their planning.
HCPSS staff will monitor bus ridership and driver vacancies and make adjustments to the schedule as we are able. It is our goal to limit the number of instances buses must double back for additional students and to minimize the impact on students and families.
Anyone interested in becoming a driver is encouraged to call the HCPSS Transportation Office at 410-313-6732 as soon as possible.