Bus Driver Shortage Cancels School in Hudson Valley, Parents Irate
All hell has broken loose in one local school district due to a lack of bus drivers, and it may spread to more communities throughout the Hudson Valley in the near future.
Parents were irate on Thursday night after school was abruptly canceled for all students on Friday. A note from the Pine Bush Central School district superintendent, Tom O. Mains, was sent on September 9 to parents explaining that an ongoing "bus situation" would necessitate the closing of all schools ahead of the weekend.
Earlier today I was informed the same 12 bus routes that were not covered today will not be covered again for tomorrow. As a result, I will be closing all Pine Bush district-run schools tomorrow, Friday, September 10, 2021.
On Tuesday parents were notified that some bus routes would be without drivers and were encouraged to find alternate transportation for students. A Facebook group was even set up by the district to try and connect parents with each other to plan out carpools. Many students were left with no way to get to school, forcing them to take an excused leave of absence on Thursday.
Mains went on to explain that pivoting to online instruction was not an option for students without transportation because the district has yet to hand out enough Chromebooks. Upon hearing the news, parents were not happy. The Pine Bush Central School district's Facebook page was full of angry messages, criticizing the school district for a lack of planning.
Craig Barry complained about the lack of contingency planning in light of the ongoing challenges from the pandemic. He said, "No bus plan, no chrome books distributed for remote learning, it's only been 18 months since this started." Other Facebook users laid blame on the district's decision to change bus companies.
In reality, there is a shortage of bus drivers across the Hudson Valley, with many local school districts being forced to combine runs and stagger pick-up schedules. Some schools are dangerously close to being in the same situation as Pine Bush, with a very small staff of drivers barely covering necessary routes
Mains says he was not informed by Birnie, the bus company that the district uses, that the situation was so dire. Drivers covering many of the schools' routes were actually borrowed from other districts that did not start school yet. With all classes now underway, those drivers were redeployed to other districts, leaving Pine Bush without enough staff to operate its busses.
Mains says that he's working on a solution and asked parents to be patient.
Our team here at the District continues to work on both short-term and long term solutions to the current bus situation, trying to fashion a solution that we believe is both practical and manageable.
The Pine Bush superintendent promised to call parents over the weekend to update them on the situation and plans for returning to in-class instruction in the future.