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Non-Transportation Zones policy no longer in effect for some WJCC students after weeks of community pushback

Two schools will see changes to the new policy that stopped bus routes for elementary students who live a half mile from school building.

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Williamsburg-James City County schools officials are changing a new division policy that ended bus rides for some students. 

Tuesday, some students at James River Elementary did something they hadn't done this school year: catch the bus!

That's because the school no longer uses "non-transportation zones." 

Under a new policy in Williamsburg-James City County schools, buses do not pick up elementary students within a half mile of their school building.  

The decision sparked backlash from affected families, as many say it forces their young children to walk in unsafe conditions. 

But now, things are changing at least at two schools.

A school division spokeswoman said the policy is no longer in effect at James River Elementary, and students at DJ Montague Elementary will see adjustments to the plan. 

In a statement, spokesperson Kara Wall said, "A variety of factors led to this decision, including the determination we could accommodate this shift within the current division-wide routing needs and staffing parameters." 

She also said bus drivers are taking on new routes in additions to their existing assignments. 

Local advocate Jaqueline Bridgeforth-Williams, leader of the Village Initiative, is one of many people who pushed for change.  

"When I got the news, I sat down and cried," she said. "It's also good for the community to share their concerns because it can lead them to take another look and make a change." 

A few weeks ago, Andre Lee told us he worried about his kindergartener's safety and walked her to DJ Montague every day. 

Tuesday morning, she took a bus to school. Good news for Lee, who doesn't have a car and walks with a limp. 

Many parents and advocates still plan to show up to Tuesday's school board meeting. They're also concerned about a new attendance policy that, in part, says high school students automatically fail their class if they miss at least nine days of school in a semester. 

School division leaders have said the move is to combat chronic absenteeism. 

The Williamsburg James City County school board meeting starts at 6 p.m. at James Blair Middle School in Williamsburg. 

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