A surge in absenteeism at the Hernando County School District’s (HCSD) Transportation Department is being blamed for school buses running late this week.
In a Jan.18 social media post, the HCSD said that due to “high illness-related” absences, many school bus routes were late Tuesday morning and were expected to run late in the afternoon as well.
“Dispatch is using all available Bus Operators to cover multiple routes,” the posting said. “We apologize for the inconvenience and will continue to make every effort to get students to school safely and on time.”
HCSD Spokesman Karen Jordan said that 20 Transportation Department drivers were out sick on Tuesday and that the delays were unavoidable without enough drivers on the job.
“Fewer available bus drivers means all drivers run multiple rounds of picking up and dropping off (morning and afternoon routes) each day,” she said.
Several other members of the department’s staff were out too, but not all the absences were COVID-19 related.
“Most staff are out because of some connection to COVID- either they have tested positive or they are taking care of sick family,” Jordan said. “But some are out due to non-COVID illness as well.”
Jordan said that the absent staffers are expected to return to work shortly.
“Hopefully, the worst is behind us and we’ll see more drivers return soon,” she said.