Schools struggle with bus driver shortages | Connecticut News


(WFSB) – School districts across Connecticut saw a shortage of school bus drivers Monday morning.

Due to the staffing shortage, several schools decided to close or delay opening.

Stratford and Enfield schools were both closed Monday but are planning to open again Tuesday.

Torrington and Stonington both closed Tuesday as they work through their bus driver shortages.

“Each day is going to throw a new challenge at us,” says Jon Hipsher, chief operating manager at M&J Bus Inc. Hipsher says just one call out can have a massive impact.

“The shortage has hit us all in different districts. So, you have some where maybe you’re not suffering a lot of people being out, and some locations where there could be 25-40% of driving group that outs, so each day that’s going to change a little bit,” Hipsher says.

Hipsher says a big portion of the shortage comes from bus drivers who are waiting on COVID test results. He says bus companies are working to have a bus route plan the day before school.

“We’re already presently right now working on how we’re going to put things for tomorrow morning together this time and crossing our fingers we’re not going to have any surprise call-outs in the morning, but I’m sure we’re all going to have that,” says Hipsher.

Districts acknowledge routes will be changing and are asking for patience. A letter from Enfield’s Superintendent wrote,

“We are operating day to day and circumstances change overnight (or early in the morning) … we ask parents, please be aware that buses may be behind their ‘normal’ schedules.”

“We are looking at further consolidations that you can make on some routes or piggy backing one route on top of the other. Anything we can do to continue to safely get these kids to school and get them home in the afternoon,” says Hipsher.

“Superintendents are notifying families to the degree that they can that bus routes are going to be late, they don’t have enough drivers, if possible, drive your children to school if you can possibly do that,” says Fran Rabinowitz executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents. 

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