Bus driver shortage: Some FCPS students may have to hold off on in-person learning

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – It’s not a rising number of coronavirus cases – it’s a shortage of bus drivers that will keep hundreds of Fayette County Public School students from walking through their schools’ front doors in a few weeks.

The district says nearly 900 students from special program schools will have to continue learning remotely until the void is filled.

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“I was definitely excited,” Kiah Arnold, a mother whose son attends STEAM Academy, said. “Whenever the STEAM staff members called me to see if Tray was going to go back, I was like yes.”

Arnold says that excitement dwindled Tuesday night when she got a call from the district saying her son, Trayvon Mason, wouldn’t be among those students going back to the classroom.

“I was really up and then that kinda brought me down,” Arnold recalled. “Not to the point where I was angry or depressed or things like that – I was just disappointed. I’m happy that students do get to go back to in-person learning, but at the same time, I still want my child to be able to go and it’s like, dang, I didn’t know him taking advantage of one of the awesome opportunities in FCPS would hinder him from being able to walk in.”

COO Myron Thompson says the issue is the bus routes are built around neighborhood schools. Special program schools draw students from all across the county, so bus routes for them take weeks to plan out.

“Due to our shortage, some of those folks whose jobs it is to route may be behind the wheel driving, Thompson said.

The district says it understands how frustrating it is to be so close to a long-awaited return only to face another road block.

“We are leaving no stone unturned to figuring out how we get our students back into the building for in person instruction that want it,” James McMillin, FCPS Chief of High Schools, said. We want that to happen.”

Mason says he learns betters in the classroom, but he understands why he’ll have to wait a bit longer.

He uses a field trip as an example: if there was no transportation to take the students who need it, he says it wouldn’t be fair to exclude them.

“You don’t know what’s going on and how bad these people need the transportation,” Mason said.

The district says it needs about 50 bus drivers to deal with the shortage. McMillin encourages people to apply as soon as possible.

As of now, McMillin says he’s talking to special program schools to figure out how many parents can drive their kids to school for the time being.

FCPS says it hopes it can figure it out before March 8.