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Issue 1

September 27th, 2019

Buses delay students' learning

FRI. | 09-24-21 | NEWS

SAT. | 10-10-20 | NEWS

     Bus pick-ups and drop-offs are later than usual this year at Rose, causing students to arrive late to school.

Bree Songy, a ninth-grader at Rose, is one of many students facing this issue.

     “[The bus] was two hours late the first day of school getting home,” Songy said.  “And I was supposed to ride it in the morning, and it never came.”

     Assistant Principal Michael Casey oversees buses at Rose.

Thirteen buses come to Rose every day. On the first day of school, Casey said 10 buses arrived late. 

     Students say this has been a constant issue going on since the beginning of the school year and that the late arrivals have caused them to miss instructional time in their first period classes. Freshman Churchill Thomas recalls the bus picking him up significantly later than usual multiple times.  

     “It affects me because I miss my first period sometimes.” Thomas said.

     Thomas added that the latest he’s arrived at class due to a bus arriving late was at 9:40; over 

an hour after period one had begun.

     This has not only been a problem at Rose, but it has been happening all over Pitt County and across the state of North Carolina.

bus article

Photo by Katharine Gauland

     One cause of this county-wide bus issue is the transition from online to in-person learning and schools going back to full capacity. 

     “Last year I would say we had maybe between 50-75 students riding the bus,” Casey said. “And now we’re looking at a couple of hundred students riding the bus daily.” 

     With Pitt County schools going back to in-person learning, more students are riding on the buses, and more stops are added to the routes.

     Student drivers and ECU students are also occupying the roads, after a year of being off campus for virtual learning due to Covid-19, leading to more traffic along the bus routes. 

     “We didn’t have the university here last year. That’s probably 30-40 thousand cars that we didn’t have to contend with,” Casey said.

     The addition of the students at ECU on the roads adds onto the traffic bus drivers have to drive through.

Another cause of late buses across the state is a shortage of bus drivers. New drivers and volunteers have to take a course in order to be qualified to drive buses. The program normally takes 8 weeks, and includes additional drug tests, background checks, multiple instructional days and days behind the wheel, so it takes a while for new drivers to be put on buses. This means that the current drivers now have to drive multiple routes between different schools in order to make up for the shortage. 

     Although there isn’t a driver shortage for Rose, Assistant Principal Casey says that he has prepared for such a situation with a substitute bus driver rotation just in case. 

As for collaboration between the schools, he says that the communication was strong between the different schools and their teams. Casey has been working with principals at both Eastern Elementary and Wintergreen Elementary, the schools  with whom Rose shares buses. 

“We talk very regularly,” Casey said. “I would say our collaboration is strong.” 

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