School District of Beloit students were to be back in class today after being off Monday because of a bus driver shortage stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an email to families, the district said it anticipates busing transportation issues may continue for the remainder of the week. The district said Durham School Services, which buses Beloit students, would be in touch with students’ families if there are any changes to pick-up times or locations.
Some 997 students in the district ride a DSS bus to school, according to JoAnn Armstrong, executive director of business, human Resources and operations for the school district.
The district had 6,031 students in 2021-22, according to a budget presentation by the district given in October.
According to information from DSS, the Monday shortage of bus drivers was due to a few team employees having to quarantine after a routine COVID-19 screening by the company.
DSS is looking to hire eight to 10 additional drivers. Training takes about a month on average. Once a driver is fully credentialed, starting pay is $17.34 per hour. Individuals interested in joining the DSS National Express team as a school bus driver can find more information and apply at careers.nellc.com.
The Milton School District emailed parents Monday night informing them the district would be temporarily combining three elementary and three intermediate school afternoon bus routes starting Tuesday and extend through at least the end of the week.
Milton students on routes 134 (West), 145 (East), 146 (East) and Northside routes 110, 112 and 113 will arrive home later than their usual times. The district’s goal is to have all routes completed by 5:30 p.m. and to keep schools open, according to the email. Parents should call their children’s schools if they want to pick up students at school instead.
The Beloit Turner School District was in session on Monday. The district owns its buses and its drivers are Turner employees.
“We are currently fully staffed for drivers, but are looking for additional sub drivers,” said Superintendent Dennis McCarthy.
McCarthy said the district has contingency plans if needed to add routes. That could mean late arrivals at Beloit schools for a few buses.
The district currently runes routes to the elementary, middle and high schools in the mornings and afternoons.
In a severe driver shortage situation, in which the district would have few drivers with commercial drivers’ licenses, would identify which routes and how many would need to run late. Then parents would be notified of the option to drop off and pick up instead, or understand that their child could arrive late.
“The goal is to impact as few routes as possible and still be able to hold school with minimal disruption,” McCarthy said.
Lincoln Academy CEO Kristi Cole said her school was in session on Monday and didn’t have any issues with busing.