EVSC bus driver shortage leads to delays
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - A nationwide bus driver shortage and the record number of COVID-19 cases in Vanderburgh County are causing Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation bus drivers to double and triple up on their routes.
With bus drivers calling in sick, on top of the shortage, students are waiting an extended period of time at the bus stop.
Mandy Sims has a sixth-grade daughter who attends McGary Middle School.
Sims says she and her daughter waited an hour for the bus to arrive on Wednesday. She says they waited in their warm truck, but other students waited outside for the bus.
Thursday, those kids were still waiting outside for the bus. This time, however, the wind chill was zero degrees, and Sims says the bus never arrived.
EVSC Chief Communications Officer Jason Woebkenberg says the district is aware of delays of 30 minutes, but says he can’t confirm if students were forced to wait longer.
When questioned about letting parents know via text, call, or email that the bus was going to be late or not arrive at all, Woebkenberg said, “This route was run by a back-up bus today. All families involved received two communications about this yesterday to let them know. They can monitor all bus movement through GPS. Bus 39 picked up students at this bus stop this morning at 7:10. Afraid this individual has some inaccurate information they are sharing.”
Sims says that her husband waited with her daughter in the vehicle once again from 6:50 a.m. to 8:15 a.m., an hour after school had started, before taking both his child and another child to school himself.
“We received nothing. No messages, nothing,” said Sims, “I wouldn’t send my child out to play for an hour in 16 degree weather at 6:50 in the morning, I just wouldn’t let her do that, but that’s what’s happening. Go outside and stand at a bus stop for an hour, and maybe we’ll show up.”
“When you’re running two or three routes, when you’re having to send a backup bus to pick up students, there could be times when there is a delay so we certainly hate to see that happen,” Woebkenberg said. “Because of the high number of cases here in Vanderburgh County, when you have a nationwide bus shortage, we’re going to do everything in our power to get students to school safely and on time.”
She says her daughter normally waits around 15 minutes for the bus, past the time it is scheduled to arrive.
Woebkenberg made sure to compliment EVSC’s transportation department, praising the drivers for taking on the extra workload.
He says the bus driver shortage was an issue even before the pandemic.
Woebkenberg added that the pandemic has taught everyone to “roll with the punches” and this is another example of that.
He said students who arrive to school tardy because of a late bus are not marked tardy or truant.
Sims says that students who arrive to school tardy if their parents drop them off after waiting on the bus can be marked as tardy or truant.
She says that she has driven her daughter on multiple occasions when the bus was taking too long. In those instances, even though the bus made her daughter late she is still marked tardy.
Sims doesn’t yet know if her daughter and the other girl were marked as tardy or truant Thursday morning.
When asked about this scenario and whether or not students would be marked tardy, Woebkenberg did not provide a clear answer.
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