Patience wearing thin for Norfolk parents after more bus delays and no-shows

NPS bus delays
Posted at 9:54 PM, Feb 24, 2022

NORFOLK, Va. – Sixth grader Payton Ferguson usually rides the bus to and from Blair Middle School, but she didn’t on Thursday.

Her dad took her to school because the day before, she said she waited outside for two hours for her bus and it never showed up, leaving her stuck at home all day.

“I went to the bus stop and I was waiting there for a while, and I was like, ‘Is the bus coming?’” said Ferguson. “So, my friend was like, ‘Let’s call the school.’ So, we called the school and they said 50 bus drivers were out.”

A spokesperson for Norfolk Public Schools told News 3 some buses ran late Wednesday morning after a large number of drivers called out sick andparents could also expect delays on Thursday.

The district, like many others nationwide, said it’s been dealing with bus driver shortages all year.

Many parents are frustrated with the slow response to alert them.

Amber Normandin has two kids who attend Ghent School and one son who attends Blair Middle School.

“They’re not notifying people early enough in the mornings,” said Normandin. “Most parents are sitting there waiting. Parents are going to be late to work because they don’t plan for these things ahead of time if they don’t expect it.”

Some parents told News 3 they didn’t get notified at all about delays.

For Normandin, she said she finally got a robocall right before school started - but the bus never came, and her three kids missed school.

“Yesterday actually was the worst day for me to have a missing bus because my car broke down,” she said. “So, even though my kids are parent pickup, they had to miss school because there was no bus in our neighborhood. Even those of us who have kids with parent pickup sometimes still rely on buses, and to not have that is very frustrating.”

The district posted a message on social media Wednesday about possible bus delays going home. They encouraged parents to pick up their kids instead, but it was posted just before the end of the school day, leaving some parents little time to plan.

“More notice would be helpful if they have it,” Normandin said.

Many parents were not happy and spoke out on Facebook. Elizabeth Miller's post read, “No other school systems around us are having issues, this is a shame.”

For some, like Ferguson, 11, she not only missed a day of school; she missed out on a lot more.

“Well, I missed out on basically learning, basically learning,” she said.

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for NPS said it’s continuing to hire bus drivers and substitute bus drivers.

News 3 reached out to NPS and its transportation department to see if more delays are expected Friday, and the school district’s spokesperson said she could not say.