Lack of bus drivers forces Johnston to ask parents to drive kids to school


JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Less than 24 hours after parents in Johnston learned they would need to start driving their kids to school due to a staffing shortage among bus drivers, the district announced that it’s no longer an issue.

Assistant Superintendent Julie-Anne Zarrella notified parents Wednesday evening that beginning Thursday, all buses will run as usual.

“We are safely able to transport all Johnston students for the remainder of this year,” she said.

Initially, Zarrella told parents Tuesday night they would be responsible for getting their children to and from school until winter break. The only buses that would’ve been operating during that time would’ve been for special education students and those attending St. Phillips.

Zarrella noted that parents whose children attend St. Rocco’s and Trinity will still need to provide transpiration to and from school until further notice, though she did not explain why.

The initial announcement, according to Zarrella, came after a number of bus drivers at National Express were ordered to quarantine, which put a strain on the company’s already limited staffing.

“We are working closely with the district to minimize the impact this has on our routes,” National Express said in a statement.

The district also shifted Sarah Dyer Barnes Elementary to distance learning last week. Zarrella said this decision was made because 35% of the school’s students and staff have either tested positive or were considered a close contact.

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