School bus service disrupted in Mpls., St. Paul amid COVID, cold snap

Kids wearing face masks exit a school bus.
Children exit a bus as prekindergarten through second grade students returned for in-person learning on Jan. 19, 2021 at Park Brook Elementary in Brooklyn Park. Citing dire driver shortages, school districts in Minneapolis and St. Paul are asking parents to plan alternative transportation for students this week.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

Updated: 7:14 p.m.

Facing a dire driver shortage, Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts are asking parents to start planning alternative transportation for students.

In an email Wednesday, the St. Paul public school district asked parents to make plans to get their children to and from school in case their bus route is canceled, citing the ongoing bus driver shortage. The district says its schools are expecting shortages and cancellations, made worse by people getting sick, through the remainder of the school year.

The district apologized for the disruption and said parents with questions about the situation should contact their schools directly.

Jackie Turner, the chief operations officer for St. Paul Public Schools, said families should check their My Bus app daily to see if their bus route times have changed or if the bus has been cancelled for that day.

Minneapolis schools also warned parents of a potential delay in their bus service Thursday, asking families to get their students dressed properly for the subzero cold as they expect a longer wait outside. The district also canceled its afterschool programs on Thursday to maximize buses available.

District leaders say they’ll announce decisions about their schools with families early Friday morning. Otherwise, schools will remain open for in-person learning.

Driver shortages have hit districts across the state hard this entire school year, and have lead to route cancellations and changes.