Education

Substitute drivers able to cover most Chapel Hill-Carrboro City bus routes

Posted November 30, 2021 10:43 p.m. EST
Updated December 1, 2021 5:49 p.m. EST

— After Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools said staffing issues could delay buses on Wednesday morning, the district found substitute drivers to cover "almost all" of the routes.

"We are able to use substitutes to cover almost all of the routes on time," a Facebook post after 7 a.m. read. "The only one of the routes published last evening that will be significantly impacted is the McDougle Middle School run on Bus 95. That run had to be split between two existing bus runs (37 and 22)."

The district also said Bus 258, which serves Phillips Middle School and East Chapel Hill High School, would operate approximately 15 to 20 minutes behind schedule Wednesday. Parents can get up-to-date information on the "Here Comes the Bus" app.

In a message sent to parents on Tuesday, school leaders said families of students who ride on the following routes could be affected:

  • Route 12 (Carrboro Elementary School, Culbreth Middle School, Chapel Hill High School)
  • Route 28 (Scroggs Elementary School, Smith Middle School, East Chapel Hill High School)
  • Route 95 (Northside Elementary School, McDougle Middle, Chapel Hill High)

School leaders encouraged families to consider alternate transportation as the district addressed the staffing shortages.

Tuesday was the deadline for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

The deadline was originally Oct. 31, but the school board approved a motion to extend it to Nov. 30. Employees not vaccinated by the deadline could face termination.

A district spokesman said the bus driver shortage isn’t a “sick-out” protest of better wages, like other surrounding districts have seen.

Compared to Wake and Cumberland counties, drivers in CHCCS get paid much higher. Pay rates in CHCCS are $16.50, and bus drivers get a $4,000 signing bonus.

"We're constantly recruiting, not just full-time drivers, but those who may not be able to commit to driving full-time but maybe can do a morning here or an afternoon," said Andy Jenks, spokesperson with the district.

Jenks said he did not believe that Wednesday's shortage was connected to the vaccine requirement.

1,904 out of 1,977 district employees are vaccinated, a spokesperson with CHCCS said. 43 people have approved medical or religious exemptions and 30 people did not fill out their vaccination form. The district is working on making contact with those employees to make sure they get vaccinated.

Families that want to track the status of their student's bus can download the Here Comes the Bus app. Parents will need their student's school ID number and district code to use the app.

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