Attention Wake families: COVID-related bus driver absences may continue next week

The Wake County school system is warning families that school bus service could continue to be disrupted next week due to so many bus drivers being absent with COVID-19 issues.

More than 150 Wake school bus drivers were absent Thursday and Friday, causing more than 100 bus routes to be canceled Friday morning. Wake says the problems that forced thousands of students to find their own transportation on Friday may spill over into next week as the COVID-19 surge continues.

“Due to the unpredictable nature of pandemics, and the increased infections caused by the omicron variant, we do not know how much longer service will be disrupted,” the district said in a message to families Friday.

North Carolina and the nation are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 cases. It’s causing a growing number of bus drivers and other school employees to call out sick or stay under quarantine.

Wake is encouraging families to check the status of their child’s bus daily starting Monday morning at Wake is North Carolina’s largest school district.

In addition to checking the bus update page, families can also track their child’s bus using the Here Comes the Bus app.

The district said families will receive updates about any important developments related to the status of the bus driver workforce as they become available.

Guilford suspends bus service for some students

Guilford County, the state’s third-largest school district, is suspending bus service for high school students in Greensboro and High Point for at least two weeks. Those students can use public transit for free.

This comes after Guilford started middle schools an hour later and high schools 90 minutes later due to so many school bus drivers being out.

“This is a temporary crisis but we’ll get through this,” Guilford County Superintendent Sharon Contreras said in a news conference Friday.

Wake school leaders say the COVID-related bus driver absences are worsening preexisting problems from a nationwide school bus driver shortage. Even before the absences, Wake says it has 100 bus driver vacancies.

“We deeply regret the disruption this has caused to families,” Wake said in the email. “Our transportation staff will continue to do their very best to serve as many routes as possible even as they face this challenge.”