HUTTO, Texas - More buses than drivers. That was the situation Monday morning for Hutto ISD.
"We kind of ran out of the magic dust, unfortunately, if you don’t have the people you’re just unable to operate," Assistant superintendent Henry Gideon said.
The problem for Hutto ISD began last week when a little more than a dozen transportation employees were unable to work. The trend, fueled mostly by COVID, continued, and by the weekend it was determined 37 buses would not have a driver on Monday.
"So we worried all along, and it finally caught us after a tough month in December, this new variant is spreading pretty quickly, the reality hit us yesterday, and we’re just not able to safely run those regular ed routes," said Gideon.
A Notification email was sent out that school buses would not roll Monday. As a result, the nearly 4,000 students who typically ride a bus had to find some other way to school.
"We saw some great things online yesterday where parents were talking about carpooling, so everybody worked all together, it was a team effort to make it happen today, I know it was an inconvenience but it was really great to see," said Gideon.
Cesar Mejia was among those who quickly had to adjust their own back to work schedule. He dad two kids to get to class on time. "It was traffic, long traffic in just one lane yeah 1660, One lane backed up all the way not so pleasant not so pleasant," said Mejia.
The afternoon pick-up was about the same. A lot of gridlock with some parents lining up a few hours before the end of the school day. "Chaos, a lot of chaos I don’t know what line I'm supposed to be in but this is the line I’m in, and I hope that they give me my kid," said Tameika Marshall.
It’s a look, that’s expected to continue to the end of the week.
The drivers who were not sick did not stay with their parked buses. All this week they are being deployed to area schools to help with drop-offs in the morning and pick-ups in the afternoon. "So it’s a challenge it’s just a puzzle to put together, but that’s what we do," said Gideon.
Transportation for special needs students is not canceled. Shuttle buses will also continue to run for ninth-grade students who attend county higher education center programs, and those affiliated with the WORKS program.
"I was talking to Mike Shoe, yesterday The office of emergency management for WilCo, he wanted to know if he could reach out and get some help from some other school districts but they are in the same boat we are in they don’t have enough drivers under normal circumstances so there’s no way we could’ve shared drivers at this point," said Gideon.
Hutto ISD was already behind the 8-ball before the virus took hold. The district was in, and still in, the process of trying to fill 12 vacancies.
LEANDER ISD sent out an alert this morning notifying parents and staff a driver shortage was causing delays. Lake Travis ISD told FOX 7 Austin it has had to cut back 2 to 3 routes because of the driver shortage they have.
Round Rock ISD, Hays CISD, and Georgetown ISD are still on the regular schedule. They are monitoring their school bus situation on a day-to-day basis.