NewsLocal News

Actions

Parents describe hectic time getting kids home from school in Chesterfield

"Parents were just trying to look for their kids everywhere."
Posted at 12:47 PM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 12:49:51-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- It's the second day of school for most Chesterfield students and bus delays are continuing throughout the county due to a lack of drivers.

CBS 6 was with families along Windmill Ridge Drive in Midlothian Tuesday morning, as the bus arrived 25 minutes behind schedule.

"You expect issues the first couple days," said Midlothian mom, Kate Morales.

But Morales didn't expect what happened Monday evening.

"The little kids didn’t get off until 6:29 p.m., and they are supposed to be home at 4:45 p.m.," Morales explained.

She received the first email from Swift Creek Elementary stating the bus would be late at 5:30 p.m. Monday, and she got a second message at 6 p.m. saying the bus had just left the school.

“I was so hungry that I ate three pieces of fried chicken for dinner," said elementary school student, Seth Morales.

Families with children at Woolridge Elementary also reported their children getting home after 6 p.m.

Over at A.M. Davis Elementary, mom Tiffany Hagen said there were dozens of kids waiting to be picked up by parents after 5 p.m.

"He was supposed to come home on the bus, and my husband was waiting for him for over an hour," Hagen explained. "I then got a phone call from the school saying that he was parent pick-up."

Hagen said she signed her son Bentley up to ride the bus back in July, and received an email from his teacher Friday asking for his bus number.

"Even his own teacher had all of his bus ride information, and he still didn’t get home," she said.

When Hagen arrived to pick up Bentley from A.M. Davis, she said staff couldn't tell her where he was. She noted there were several other frantic parents looking for their children.

"Finally, I found him," said Hagen. "He was in the last trailer all the way in the back of the building, in the back of the school property. Parents were just trying to look for their kids everywhere asking staff, and staff couldn’t answer them."

The district said these bus issues are due to the driver shortage, and that they’ve communicated to parents to expect delays.

“They’ve had plenty of time to try to figure it out, but I’m not really sure what the solution is," said Morales.

While these Chesterfield parents understand the driver dilemma, they expect day two to go smoother than day one.

“There’s not a perfect scenario, but what happened yesterday is uncalled for," said Morales.

CBS 6 reached out to the district to find out what parents can expect for day two and about the situation at A.M. Davis.

A spokesman said they continue to share with families that there will be delays due to driver shortages. But, he noted the school cannot comment on issues with specific students at the school due to privacy issues, and said they are reaching out to the school about this directly.

There were some improvements Tuesday morning, as the car drop-off line at Swift Creek Elementary School was clear compared to the line that stretched down Genito Road Monday morning.

Some parents also reported that Midlothian Middle has done a great job with parent drop-offs.

Chesterfield said it's working hard to fill the dozens of open bus driver positions, and they are offering a starting salary of $17.21 an hour for bus drivers. The pay increases to $25.73 per hour with experience.

According to the district, that’s higher than almost every other Central Virginia school system. Chesterfield school bus drivers can also earn bonuses for safe driving ($100/semester) and perfect attendance ($50/month).

How was your family's back-to-school experience? Let us know by sending an email to newstips@wtvr.com.