Some students in the Ann Arbor Public School District had to find a different way to get to class Monday.
That's because so many bus drivers for the Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD) called in sick, the district had to cancel bus service for most students. The WISD provides bus service for Ann Arbor Schools. That left parents scrambling.
"I was already getting him up," said parent Melissa Menz, "but I had to keep him home because I didn't have a way to get him to school. I was a little bit upset. They should have cancelled school if they didn't have transportation."
On Monday, bus service was only provided to special education and preschool students. This is the second time this year call outs by transportation staff impacted bus service. It also happened on January 8, but on that day Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti Community Schools cancelled classes.
"We had a number of employees we already knew would be out, then a dozen drivers called in this morning," said Emma Jackson from the Washtenaw Intermediate School District. "It's unfortunate and not ideal. We want to fulfill obligations and our contract with Ann Arbor Public Schools and provide services for our students."
In a press release last month, Ann Arbor Public Schools said it recommended Durham School Services to provide busing services beginning in the 2015-2016 school year, leading some to wonder if call outs by the current transportation staff were intentional.
"We don't anticipate that this was an intentional work stop. There's a flu. Flu goes around, people are sick," said Jackson.
Parents were informed by Monday afternoon that buses would be available to take kids home from school. School district officials said a sufficient number of afternoon drivers were able to report to work to put school busses back in service.
The Washtenaw Intermediate School District is still in talks with Ypsilanti Community Schools about providing bus service for the upcoming school year. Officials say they are doing what it takes to increase staffing.