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Parents, schools face minor hiccups with bus routes, student drop-off on first day of school

Many of the problems parents faced were late or no-show buses and traffic heading to the school.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — A lot of Hampton Roads students went back to school on Tuesday. Parents said their children were very excited to head back to classrooms.

“My 11-year-old was super excited about being a rising sixth grader and going into middle school,” Matthew Castillo said.

Castillo has a first and sixth grader at Chesapeake Public Schools. He said this year would be different than others because of COVID-19.

“We are going to have to adapt throughout the year," he said.

Once change he and his wife have adapted to already is dropping their two children off at school, instead of having them ride the bus.

“The main reasons, obviously COVID concerns with everyone being packed on the bus seats, but also with the lack of bus drivers,” Castillo said.

Some divisions dealt with a few speed bumps on Tuesday. Many local school systems are dealing with a shortage of school bus drivers.

Chesapeake Public Schools is short 120 bus drivers. On Tuesday, some parents said the bus took more than an hour to get to their child’s stop, or didn’t show up at all.

"We knew there were going to be issues with scheduling and getting buses in on time," Castillo said.

He and his wife decided to each take one child to school, which school leaders asked parents to do earlier this year because of the bus driver shortage.

“It was very difficult getting in. I think it was a 40 minute trip to drop my first grader off, instead of a five minute drive like it normally is to reach there,” he said.

Chesapeake school officials are asking parents to be patient.

“We expected a lot of parents to be doing that drop off, and again we are going to reevaluate and see how they are doing things and try to improve and get parents through the drop off,” school spokesman Chris Vail explained. “Everyone getting back to that normalcy of school starting... I think as we get through that first week of school, everything will improve.”

Vail said bus drivers and school administrators are working out the kinks.

"They have new students on the bus, new bus stops that parents and students need to learn," he said.

Vail said if your child’s bus is late, give the driver a few extra minutes if you can. He said they’re doing their best.

“We have buses doubling back to pick up students, but we do promise all students will be picked up,” Vail said.

He said everyone’s goal is to get students to school and get them there safely.

Chesapeake Public Schools officials are still hiring bus drivers. Right now, they are offering a $500 bonus to anyone willing to take on the job. 

The job pays about $15 an hour. For more information, click here.


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