LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Even though Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) is down about 140 bus drivers since last year, school district officials are assuring parents that all students who need a ride will get one. 

What You Need To Know

  • JCPS is down bus drivers, but assuring parents their children will have rides to school

  • JCPS consolidated 140 bus routes this year

  • Students will be required to wear masks at all times on the bus and drivers will have hand sanitizer.

  • JCPS anticipates approximately 30 kids per bus and they will be socially distanced as much as possible.

The district has plans to allow students to return in-person on a hybrid model starting March 17 and phasing in by grade level from there. Before the first round of students makes their way back, JCPS has been working out the logistics of transportation. 

JCPS says, on average, the district has about 900 bus routes a year. With the driver shortage, hybrid schedules, and some students opting to stick with Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI), they consolidated 140 routes this year.

"By going to a hybrid schedule, it has minimized the number of people on the bus, alternating about half the students each day of the week. This has enabled us to cut down on the number of bus stops each day and consolidate routes to get all the routes covered,” JCPS Chief Operating Officer Chris Perkins said.

Some parents have not yet filled out the form indicating whether their child will come in-person or online. Parents are also asked if their kids will ride a bus. Since people are still filling it out, the number of students on each bus is still up in the air. The Executive Administrator of Transportation, Marcus Dobbs, said there are normally about 60 students per bus. This year, he estimates that will be between 30-40 students on one bus at a time.

Those students will be distanced as far apart as possible depending on how full it is. There will be assigned seating, for contact tracing purposes. When asked if the whole bus would be quarantined if one student tests positive, Dobbs did not have an exact answer. He said JCPS would work with the health department to make that determination. 

There will be quite a few changes when students get ready to board the bus this year. First, the driver will give them hand sanitizer when walking on. Each bus driver also has extra masks for any student who forgets one. JCPS requires that students wear a mask at all times on the bus. 

Diana Burrus has been driving for the district for the past 20 years. She knows masks can turn into toys real fast with kids, so she asks parents to talk to their children about the importance of the safety guidelines.

“I know the kids miss each other. They (parents) need to teach them how important it is to not be on here hugging your friends saying you miss them. Just get on the bus. We will load from the back to the front. Have a seat and just be as safe as we can,” Burrus said.

Burrus said, because of health concerns, she was not able to get a vaccine. However, drivers in the district who want one can receive one. Many have already started doing so or are already fully vaccinated. JCPS said it does not require drivers to be vaccinated, but they encourage them to do so if they can.

JCPS said drivers will spray down the bus seats and handles between each route. At the end of the day, each bus will be deep cleaned.

On Monday, you could find drivers out practicing their new routes. Since this will mark the first time students will be back in-person, JCPS asks parents to get their kids to the bus stop a little early, and not to be alarmed if they are running a little behind schedule.

Parents should be receiving a handout in the mail this week telling them about their kids' bus route. You can also look that up on a recently launched Bus Finder website.