Hundreds of children in Stafford were left waiting at bus stops for hours Monday morning as the county started the new school year with a severe shortage of bus drivers.
The school division planned for transport for 26,000 students Monday. But those plans fell short, with buses showing late or never showing at all in the morning and children hours late getting home. Parents took to social media to express their outrage.
“Middle school bus and high school bus never even showed up in my neighborhood this morning,” one parent said on InsideNoVa’s Facebook page. “A lot of kids missed school today, it's a shame.”
“The bus in Park Ridge Elementary NEVER SHOWED UP after waiting 1.5 hours. UNBELIEVABLE. We need a NEW SCHOOL BOARD who is responsible,” wrote another.
Stafford County school officials apologized and asked for patience as students return after more than a year of hybrid in-person and virtual learning.
“We are aware of the problems that occurred and are evaluating our procedures to ensure transportation runs more smoothly as we move forward every day,” schools spokesperson Sandra K. Osborn said in an email to InsideNoVa. “We thank our families for their patience during the early weeks of school.”
In a letter home to parents and guardians, schools Superintendent Scott Kizner said he understands “the fear that comes with not knowing where your child is located and an uncommunicated delay in their safe arrival.”
Starting Tuesday, the school division will ensure all students have assigned bus drivers, buses, bus numbers and routes and school transportation will communicate delays more clearly to families, the superintendent said.
Kizner said that due to the driver shortage, it will be necessary to have second runs in some neighborhoods, and there may be some overlap with boarding elementary and middle school students.
“Please know that we remain deeply committed to the safety and careful transportation of each and every student,” Kizner wrote.