GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Several coaches are stepping up to help get Guilford County Schools students to and from school.
High school students in Greensboro and High Point can’t ride their school buses right now, because GCS is dealing with a bus driver shortage. The impacted high school students will be able to ride their city’s bus for free in the meantime. If they don’t want to do that, they’ve got another option.
Coaches who are qualified to drive a bus are volunteering to drive shuttles for some of the impacted schools.
Jesse Tripp is a teacher and football coach at Grimsley High School. He said he is helping with the afternoon drop-offs.
"The coaches are willing to do that because we know the kids need it, so we sacrifice a lot as teachers and coaches, but obviously, it's for the best interest of the students," Tripp said. "So, we want to make sure we're there to help them and take them to school."
Tripp said at Grimsley, they have a handful of coaches who can help.
"I probably had about 25 kids or so, and I think they had about 20 to 23 in the mornings, so a couple of kids might have gotten to school on their own and then a couple of kids needed a ride after school," Tripp said.
In the morning, Grimsley's head football coach is behind the wheel. Darryl Brown can be found in the driver's seat ready to get the kids to class.
"We actually had more students this morning, but the stop that I made we picked up a group of good kids, over 25 both days, and it was very easy," Brown said. "I think all the kids as they were getting on the bus were very appreciative of us picking them up."
Brown said this is all volunteer work. There's no extra pay.
"I can only speak for myself and some of the coaches that I work with here, but we're willing to do whatever we need to do to help our students and our administration," Brown said. "I think that's probably the case at most schools, you know, it's not convenient, it's not necessarily what we want to do, but it's what we have to do."
Grimsley High School announced on Facebook last weekend it would provide four shuttle service locations. Soon after, GCS added more shuttle stops for some of the impacted high schools, including Page, Dudley, Smith, Andrews, and High Point Central.
BUS DRIVER SHORTAGE AND IMPACT
The Greensboro Transit Agency is getting an idea of just how many students rode city buses to school on Monday. It was the first day some high school students rode a city bus instead of their own school bus to campus.
Greensboro Transit Authority reported a total of 120 students as riders on Monday. Kevin Elwood with GTA said after talking with the district, that number is a little higher than they expected for the first day. He predicts more students will use the city bus service.
GCS said 34 students in High Point rode city buses on Monday. The district said it should not be an indicator of how many students will ride in the future since this week is finals week.
The district said when students are late due to a transportation issue, it is not counted against them. GCS said principals will continue to work with students who are attending school but may not arrive on time.
WFMY received an email sent to employees by Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras that gives perspective on the driver shortage. The district has a total of 485 drivers. On Monday, Jan. 10, a total of 169 drivers were out. That is more than a third of drivers. Last Friday, Jan. 7, that number was higher, with 188 bus drivers out. GCS said the driver shortage is being fueled by COVID-19.