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Robbinsdale Area Schools say busing plan was 'over-optimistic'

A letter to families from the Robbinsdale superintendent said schools may never return to the way they were pre-COVID.

ROBBINSDALE, Minn. — Editors note: The video above originally aired on Sept. 23, 2021.

School districts across the country are still struggling to find school bus drivers this year, and our local districts have been no exception. But one metro-area district now says parents shouldn't plan on a bus coming to pick up their kids. 

Robbinsdale Area Schools Superintendent David Engstrom sent a letter to district families earlier this week regarding the driver shortage. He said they've already had to cancel 12 bus routes they hoped would be staffed by the end of October. There aren't enough substitute drivers, and not enough regular bus drivers to pick up extra shifts. 

Engstrom told families to plan for "transportation alternatives" in case they're needed this year. Those living outside of "walk zones" are being asked to opt-out of bus transportation for the year so students with no other way to get to class have a chance for a seat on the school bus.

Robbinsdale is now taking additional steps to try to mitigate the transportation shortage, including looking at redrawing bus routes, partnering with Metro Transit to provide bus tokens and passes to students, adding a van service to help take students to and from after school activities, and offering temporary supervised support before and after school to help families make their schedules work around getting their kids to school. 

Superintendent Engstrom also wrote in the letter that the district is willing to work with families on a case-by-case basis if they want to transfer to Robbinsdale Virtual Academy. 

"Unfortunately, I see further hardship ahead for many families and staff. It breaks my heart that the burden is heaviest for those least able to bear it," Engstrom lamented in his letter. "I regret that these problems come after 18+ months of still other hardships, caused by a pandemic that continues."

Engstrom invited families to contact the district through their Let's Talk platform with their questions and concerns. 

Read the letter from the superintendent in it's entirety here

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