Driver shortage: No busing for Newaygo schools this week

Newaygo County

NEWAYGO, Mich. (WOOD) — Newaygo Public Schools will not be providing busing this week because of a lack of bus drivers.

It will not be able to drive students to or from school Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, Superintendent Jeff Wright said. He said there are not enough drivers to cover their routes.

While they have enough drivers to cover the regular routes, he said they don’t have enough substitutes to fill in, especially this week because several drivers are off for various reasons.

“Some had COVID or (had to) quarantine,” Wright said. ‘We’ve had people who are just sick and some people out just for normal (reasons).”

He said the school tried to combine and cancel some routes, but it became impossible to cover all routes and safely get kids to school.

Newaygo Public Schools is not the only system struggling to find bus drivers, as other schools in West Michgian and across the country face bus driver shortages.

“We know we are putting our families in a bind and some don’t have the means to get to school,” Wright said.

Most students found their way, getting a ride from neighbors or extended family members.

“I’m Grandma and I’m here to pick up my grandchildren because their mom and dad are both at work,” Christine Walker told News 8 during school pick-up time.

Wright was encouraged by the community’s willingness to help transport students to and from school.

“We’ve had family step up and say I can pick your kids up,” he said. “We’ve even had staff say, we can transport kids wherever we need to do to get our kids in this community to school.”

However, there was nearly a 10% drop in attendance Wednesday. Wright said that’s more than likely due to lack of transportation.

Newaygo High School junior Grace Button said she couldn’t find anyone to take her to school since they live in a rural area of the district, roughly 20 minutes from school.

“I’m kind of upset about it because I’ve made a goal to try and be there at school as much as I can this year, and I don’t really have control over those absences because I can’t get to school,” she said.

All bus routes will resume Monday. In the meantime, Wright said any absence due to lack of transportation will be excused, as long as the student’s parent informs the office.

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