Beginning Monday, some Anchorage School District bus service routes will be temporarily suspended, due to eight drivers either testing positive for COVID-19 or exhibiting symptoms and a shortage of bus drivers more generally, the school district said Friday.
Normal service will resume as soon as possible, although it is unknown when, the school district said in an email to families.
“We don’t know how long this is going to last,” Anchorage School District Chief Operating Officer Tom Roth said Friday. “But we’re hopeful that this system will allow us to continue as far as we have to. Our goal is to get back to normal service.”
Roth said that six ASD bus drivers tested positive for COVID-19 this week, and another two are exhibiting symptoms and awaiting test results.
The district has also struggled to hire bus drivers amid a broader shortage of workers. In a non-pandemic year, Roth said the school district and Reliant Transportation, a busing contractor the district uses, together have 240 to 250 drivers. Today, he said, there are around 200.
The suspensions will affect high schools, middle schools and elementary schools across the municipality, and will rotate through different routes over a period of weeks. The schedule for affected routes is available on the school district’s website.
Students who are in special education programs or who attend Title I schools won’t be affected.
“Consideration was given to not have a single group of students and families bear the brunt of suspended bus service,” the email to families said. “Staff evaluated ridership numbers with the goal to reduce the number of impacted students and families across the District.”
Similar circumstances are playing out in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, where nine school bus routes were canceled earlier this week after COVID-19 cases caused a driver shortage.