Baltimore Sun

Anne Arundel faces school transporta­tion, start time crisis

- — Elizabeth Fine, Gambrills

The Anne Arundel County Board of Education states that other districts are experienci­ng transporta­tion crises, but we are the only county implementi­ng a drastic start time change to compound the already dire situation (“As transporta­tion issues remain, Anne Arundel school contractor­s and parents raise concerns about start time change,” May 15). These changes add to the crisis because crossing guards and bus drivers can’t double up on routes and crosswalks. With so many buses out of service, traffic around schools is dangerous, and students will now be crossing intersecti­ons without help.

Child care is also an issue for many of our families. Many parents who relied on older children are scrambling for child care that isn’t available and if it is, is unaffordab­le. More affordable county programs do not have the appropriat­e staff, and so many programs that have shut down have not reopened. Board members previously stated that families should not rely on older children to care for their siblings. What did they suggest at the last meeting? Child care job opportunit­ies for high schoolers, those very same students who were not to be “burdened.”

The school board asked families for help with this change, but with 45 to 50 buses still out of service and child care unavailabl­e, how? We finally sent our students back to school this year, despite the daily disruption­s with transporta­tion outages. From virtual to hybrid to in-person, quarantine­s, contact tracing, masks, rising behavior issues, learning loss, a mental health crisis — the list goes on — students and staff have been through the ringer. Last year was anything but normal, so you might excuse us if we don’t have it in us to “man up” and become crossing guards or bus drivers and accept this change. So many of us are still scrambling to adjust our work schedules and find child care for this change. And, without a way to get our children safely to school, most of us will have to be available to drive or walk our students, too.

County Executive Steuart Pittman and Anne Arundel County Council members, bus companies, families and staff all pleaded to delay a year. The board did not listen. We are in a crisis in AACPS and, once again, families and staff will bear the burden.

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