Canceled bus routes caused 1,164 Fayette students to miss a half day or more this year

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Canceled bus routes have caused 1,164 Fayette County Public Schools students to miss a half day or more this school year, district officials told the Herald-Leader.

“Ensuring the academic success of our students is a responsibility we take very seriously, and any time a child is absent from school is a missed opportunity to impact their learning,” district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said Saturday. “As such, we continue to work to find a permanent solution to our transportation issues brought on by the national labor shortage. “

Deffendall said as the district works through the challenges, teachers and campus staff are going “above and beyond to ensure learning continues for students at home, whether their absence is due to transportation issues or quarantine. “

There are more than 40,000 students in Fayette County’s school district.

The district has been granting excused absences for any students who are unable to get to school because of a bus cancellation.

School bus driver shortages have been an issue in Lexington for a few years. But the shortages became more pronounced after the district began returning students to in-person instruction last spring following the coronavirus pandemic shutdown.

The situation has intensified this school year.

Soon after classes began in August, district officials began canceling several bus routes each morning because of the staff shortage. Multiple bus routes are being delayed each afternoon. Families have been asked to develop contingency plans in case their child’s bus route is canceled.

“This is certainly not an ideal situation, and we deeply apologize for the inconvenience,” a message on the district’s website said.

Fayette Superintendent Demetrus Liggins said in his most recent COVID-19 update on Sept. 21 that the school district was still hiring full time employees in the transportation and child nutrition departments and looking for substitutes in all areas.

“We hope to hire 36 full-time and relief bus drivers and 46 full-time food service employees,” Liggins said.

The school district held a job fair Saturday in an effort to address the shortages.

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