Late school buses due to bus driver shortage

SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — School districts are looking for bus drivers across Hampton Roads. But in the mean time, that could mean long waits and late drop offs for some students.

WAVY.com has received reports of school children in Suffolk not getting dropped off until 5 or 6 p.m.

“That’s just too late for any little elementary school child to get home,” said Nytara Clark, whose children go to Oakland Elementary School. Clark said her kids didn’t get off the school bus until 5 p.m. after the first day of school on Tuesday.

QuaWanna Bannarbie’s children also got home late from Oakland E.S. on Tuesday.

“I did call the school when I started to get a little worried, and they assured me the bus was on its way,” Bannarbie said.

Suffolk Public Schools spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw said the delays are due to a few things, but mainly a school bus driver shortage. The school district has openings for 13 bus drivers, but Suffolk isn’t the only district in the area with that problem.

Newport News Public Schools needs 20 bus drivers. A spokeswoman said the district is looking for substitute bus drivers on top of the openings they already have. Virginia Beach City Public Schools has openings for 10 bus drivers. Portsmouth Public Schools needs three drivers. A Hampton City Schools spokeswoman said all positions for bus drivers are filled.

Bradshaw said the bus driver shortage has an impact on whether buses stay on schedule. The school district has reworked and combined routes, and some drivers make double runs.

Bradshaw added, there are first-week kinks to work out, like when a bus from Oakland E.S. didn’t drop of students until 6 p.m. Tuesday. Adjustments have already been made within the transportation department to make sure kids are getting home on time.

“It’s the first few days of school,” Bannarbie said “I think they’re going to work it out.”

School district spokespeople agreed it is not uncommon to need bus drivers at the beginning of the school year.

All school districts mentioned say they are accepting applications for drivers. In fact, Newport News Public Schools says they have another training class starting Monday.

To apply for a bus driver position in Suffolk, click here and look for the employment tab on the right side of the webpage. To apply for a position in Newport News Public Schools, click here. You can find more information on applying to be a bus driver within Virginia Beach here. Portsmouth Public Schools has information here.

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