Lynchburg schools to have new start and stop times for upcoming school year

‘Bus buddies’ will also be added to elementary buses to ensure safety

Preparing for the school day is going to look a lot different for Lynchburg families come this fall.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Preparing for the school day is going to look a lot different for Lynchburg families this fall.

Lynchburg City Schools announced that new start and stop times for schools will be implemented for the 2021-2022 school year to create safe and more efficient bus routes.

“They’re taking a bus now. Last year they did car riders,” mom Janell Humbles says. “This year they will be taking a bus.”

As a mom with four kids in Lynchburg schools, Humbles has her hands full. Like many families, she depends on the bus to get her kids to and from school each day.

“We need about 20 drivers to run our regular schedule and we don’t have them,” LCS Sr. Director of Finance & Operations Steve Gatzke says.

Lynchburg schools need bus drivers and need them badly. The severe shortage is forcing them to come up with a game plan, so they can get kids to school both safely and efficiently.

“We had a number of drivers not return after the pandemic. For a number of years it’s been tough to recruit drivers,” Gatske says. “The pandemic has certainly made it worse.”

It’s why they’re staggering the start and stop times for all levels:

  • High School: 7:25 a.m.-2:25 p.m.
  • Middle School: 8:10 a.m.-3:10 p.m.
  • Elementary School: 8:55 a.m.-3:55 p.m.

“If I had a waive of bus drivers, I’d start making changes tomorrow,” Gatske says.

The bus driver shortage goes beyond Lynchburg. Gatske says it’s a major problem across the region, state and nation.

As they continue the search for new drivers, parents like Humbles say they’re on board as long as someone can help get the kids to the classroom.

“I didn’t know about the shortage, but the times work with my schedule,” Humbles says. “It’s a lot better than last year.”

In addition to time changes, Lynchburg schools are also adding “bus buddies” who will accompany elementary students on bus rides, take attendance, be in communication using 2-way devices and respond to questions in real-time during the first two weeks of school.

Classes are back in session on July 14 for Bass Elementary and August 11 for all other Lynchburg schools.

About the Authors:

Nicole Del Rosario joined WSLS 10 in August 2020.

Kortney joined the 10 News team as a Lynchburg Bureau Reporter in May 2021.