BLUEFIELD, WV (WVNS) – Parents in Bluefield are upset after a bus that was supposed to take their children home canceled its route with only 20 minutes notice and no back up plan.
Amandaa Geyer told 59News she felt helpless when she found out her daughter had no ride home from school with only 20 minutes left before dismissal.
Geyer lives five miles away from the school, and all of her worst fears started running through her mind thinking about her daughter walking a full five miles home. Luckily, Geyer’s husband was able to get off work and pick her daughter up. However, Geyer said she’s still concerned Mercer County Schools have no back up plan to get kids home if something unexpected happens to one of their drivers.
“It’s just unacceptable to not know that our children are making it safely home when we entrusted the school to get them safely there and safely home,” said Geyer.
The Mercer County Board of Education said the bus driver had an unexpected medical emergency, and that there were no substitute bus drivers available in the whole county. They added students couldn’t be put on to other buses due to overcrowding rules put in place to try to limit the spread of COVID.
A nationwide bus driver shortage has been ongoing for over a year now, and clearly it’s hitting close to home.
“We currently do not have very many bus drivers on our substitute bus driver list,” Mercer County Board of Education Data and Information Specialist, Amy Harrison explained. “So, once we’ve exhausted that list and we have no one to drive school buses, we have no choice but to not run that route.”
Geyer said she understands that sometimes things like medical emergencies for bus drivers happen, and some of those things are out of the school district’s control. But what she’s most frustrated by is that there’s no plan in place to get the kids home safe when things like that do come up.
“We need policies in place, and procedures in place to handle this situation when it comes up,” Geyer told 59 News. “Because if it’s going to be a thing that happens in this district on a regular basis then we need to have a plan to cope with that.”
As of now no policies have been changed, but Geyer said she plans on raising the issue at the next school board meeting.