Duis said the division worked to communicate routes with schools and parents once they realized the miscommunication, and that many issues were resolved by Thursday. Some students did get on the wrong bus, Duis said, but no child was ever unsafe or unsupervised.
He said the first day of school typically comes with some hiccups in regard to transportation, but some other factors exacerbated those issues this year, including the division’s need for more bus drivers.
Duis said the division started the school year about 15 drivers short. In order to compensate for that shortage and cover each route, Duis said substitute drivers and mechanics were taking routes, and some drivers had to double up and drive routes they weren’t familiar with.
“Any time you have substitute drivers out there who don’t know a route well, it’s gonna slow things down,” Duis said.
Transitioning back from last year’s atypical school year — where the division was transporting fewer students to school as many were participating in remote-only learning or only attending school in-person a few days per week — could have played a role in the challenges the division faced this week, as well.
Duis said the division is still encouraging families to provide transportation to their students when they can.
Lynchburg City Schools also started the school year Wednesday, and parents took to social media to share their frustrations over some similar transportation issues, such as not being able to find their student’s bus assignment or reach the division’s transportation department over the phone.