Parents frustrated over RCSD’s school bus crisis

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — As the Rochester City School District processes the official COVID-19 guidance from the New York State Department of Health, parents and students are speaking out on proposed plans that involve the current school bus crisis and the potential of returning to remote learning.

The remote learning proposal would apply to just high school students in the district. Kindergarten through grade 8 would remain in-person, and district officials would delay the opening of school by one day all because there just aren’t enough bus drivers to take them to and from school.

A worsening shortage of school bus drivers has forced the city’s school district to go back to the drawing board and change the plan, just days before the new school year begins. Parent Ismadelin Santana says she’s not surprised.

"Both of us are working parents, and now we have to deal with a situation where we don’t even know if both of our children are gonna be able to get transportation," Santana said.

Her daughter is an 11th grader at Young Women’s College Prep, and her son is a 9th grader at School Without Walls. Santana says the school bus company has kept her well informed by mail.

"The first one I got was from Aug. 16, and then another one, Aug. 20, and the other one Aug. 31 with updates," Santana said. "It says that my children will get picked up in their designated areas."

Another parent we talked to says the district has been less than forthcoming with information. Rebecca Fulton is frustrated.

"I have empathy for the fact that they’re dealing with this situation," Fulton said. "That’s not where I’m upset. I’m upset that they waited five days before to address this."

School leaders also voted against bringing back remote learning as a result of the driver shortage. Many emotional high school students pleading to have in-person classes once again.

"I went from a 4.0 to a 3.0," School of Arts student Briana Williams said. "I lost my scholarship. I’ve been put on academic probation. What is academic probation? I shouldn’t have my grades to be that low to where I have to be on probation."

After striking down the remote learning option, some school board members opted to delay the start of the school year by two weeks. When asked about that possibility, Superintendent Dr. Lesli Myers-Small said she was uncertain just how long but a delay will certainly happen.