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Norfolk families frustrated over school bus delays

Norfolk Public Schools told 13News Now "we anticipate delays for Thursday bus routes as well due to staff shortages."

NORFOLK, Va. — Some Norfolk parents and students are concerned about what the morning will bring, following school bus delays and no-shows that left them feeling panicked and frustrated.

Norfolk Public Schools said a shortage of drivers is to blame. However, parents 13News Now spoke with said staff shortage wasn't their biggest concern after what happened Wednesday. 

"It's frustrating," said Nicole Faison, a Norfolk parent. "Whatever happened created a panic."

"Norfolk Public School district, you have to do better," said another parent, Porsha Johnson. 

Faison and Johnson are among many parents across Norfolk who felt a rollercoaster of emotions on Wednesday. 

Some, like Cheryl Faulkner, faced troubles with their children's buses arriving in the morning. 

"My daughter's very anxious now because she's scared she may not be able to get to school [Thursday] or the next day," said Faulkner. She ended up making other transportation arrangements for her young daughter in the morning.

For Porsha Johnson, it wasn't until after the school day she found out her seventh-grader at Blair Middle School didn't get picked up in the morning and stayed home all day. 

Credit: Contributed, Porsha Johnson

"Now, at what point did anyone think, let me call the parent to let her know that her know her child hasn't been [at school] all day? So, between transportation and the school district, somebody is dropping the ball somewhere," said Johnson. 

A Norfolk Public Schools spokesperson told 13News Now us a "high number" of school bus drivers called out sick on Wednesday. 

Norfolk Public Schools' transportation division is short-staffed today. Parents may see delays in afternoon drop-offs....

Posted by Norfolk Public Schools on Wednesday, February 23, 2022

A message on Facebook went out close to 2:45 p.m., advising parents about delayed afternoon drop-offs. 

Faulkner's son had to walk home from Booker T. Washington High School in the afternoon. Her daughter got a ride from a friend, going home. 

"I understand, any job can have shortage, but if you're not communicating to the people who it's going to be affecting, then what are we really doing," said Faulkner. 

Parents said they weren't only concerned about their children's safety and well-being but also worried about what they described as a lack of uniform communication from the school division throughout the day. 

Some said they received robocalls. Others didn't. And some got word of bus delays from their students' teachers.

They hope communication improves. 

"To start looking down the pipeline, seeing where these continued issues and ball drops are," said Faison. 

Looking ahead, Norfolk Public Schools said it anticipates bus route delays as well on Thursday. The spokesperson said the division has been significantly short on bus drivers all year. 

The school system is hiring for school bus driver and substitute bus driver positions. 

Some parents expressed that Wednesday was not their first time dealing with school bus troubles and delays.

They wanted to recognize and thank the families who stepped in and assisted with dropping off other students home this afternoon.

Read Norfolk Public Schools' full statement:

Some buses ran late this morning as transportation supervisors worked to determine the extent of the staff shortage. 

As transportation supervisors identified a high number of bus driver sick callouts, NPS worked on bus routing and calling in drivers throughout the day to provide solutions to get students home.

Some individual schools began notifying parents earlier in the day before a division-wide notice went out.

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