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Bus driver shortage in Colonial School District reaches critical levels

The Colonial School District is letting parents know the school bus driver shortage could bring changes to in-school instruction.

The district made parents aware in a message last week that it faces a critical bus driver shortage that could impact efforts to keep students in school.

District officials say the bus driver shortage is a state and national problem, and Colonial is doing its best to maintain transportation.

They note the district is down several drivers who have been taken off the road for a variety of reasons.

Assistant Superintendent Betsy Fleetwood says to cover current driver shortages some staff members have been drafted to drive buses.

"All of our supervisors and specialists are certified to drive, our mechanics are certified to drive and thank goodness because those are people that were filling in those gaps when people are out. It takes a while to get a new driver and we do have a couple people in the pipeline."

Fleetwood says while they are urging students to take home Chromebooks and materials just in case they need to work virtually - the anticipation is if that occurs, it won’t be district-wide.

"I don't see us closing an entire district down. I don't think that's going to happen, but it could be ‘hey this school might have to shut down or this grade.’ We've had to do that due to COVID times, we had to shut a program down or a classroom or two. So we just want people to be prepared."

Fleetwood adds some drivers are making double and triple runs, which is resulting in late pick-ups and drop-offs to schools and bus stops in many cases.

The district also asked parents for help to speak to their children about easing the stress drivers are under by being on their best behavior.

Fleetwood notes district shortages aren’t just with school bus drivers, but that shortage is important because it involves transporting students to school.

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