Bus driver shortage could affect your child’s first day of school

A bus driver shortage across the Piedmont Triad could affect when your child gets to school and home at the end of the day.

Bus routes are already set in Guilford County, but your children could see more crowded buses and longer routes.

Hundreds of buses are getting ready to roll out on Aug. 28 for the first day of school in Guilford County, but the district is still short about 17 bus drivers.

"We don't panic. We just get ready," said Jeff Harris, the head of the district's department of transportation.

Guilford County Schools has a huge fleet of more than 600 buses ready to hit the road. But because of the driver shortage, 50 of them will stay out of service.

"We're not at the point yet to putting those buses back on the road," Harris said.

That means, just like last year, 50 bus routes are gone and combined with ones nearby.

"Five or 10 minutes increase and ride time, and you may have five or 10 additional students on the bus," Harris said.

But the county is growing, with more students enrolled in the school system than ever before. District leaders do expect some hiccups during week one.

"When you're transporting close to 40,000 students making 20,000 bus stops morning and afternoon, there's going to be a problem," Harris said. "But we're doing all we can to reduce those problems."

Harris suggests waiting for the bus with your child in the morning, at least until the kinks get ironed out.

"So if there is a problem, then they're not left by themselves to make a decision on what to do," he said.

That's not possible for a lot of parents though, like for Page King, who works and goes to school.

"For things to just pop up in the middle of nowhere, I don't have the ability to maybe make arrangements at the last minute," she said.

King plans to spend the next week getting her kids ready to adapt to any delays.

"I'll drive them around to their bus route and make sure they're kind of familiar with the area in case things change and then try to find someone who would be around before and after school, just in case an emergency does happen," she said.

Harris says that's good advice for all parents, while students and bus drivers alike get used to their new routes.

If a school bus is running late at any point in the school year, the district calls the school to let them know. If your child's bus shows up late, Harris suggests calling the school to find out when it will arrive.

FOX8 checked with other school districts in the Triad to see what kind of bus driver shortages they're facing.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools are down about 35 bus drivers.

According to Randolph County Schools' website, they need to hire about 13 more drivers.

The Alamance-Burlington School System has 13 spots open online.