Minneapolis schools withstand bus driver storage for start of classes while Robbinsdale struggles

The first day of school in Minneapolis started with few issues, the district report, even as officials scramble to deal with a shortage of bus drivers.

For some, this was their first day back since the start of the pandemic. Like other school districts across the metro, Minneapolis Public Schools is dealing with a shortage of bus drivers.

A school spokesperson says there were a few transportation issues but overall the day went quite well. We caught up with some parents at Bancroft Elementary in south Minneapolis Thursday afternoon just as school let out.

"I feel pretty good, this school does a good job at following protocols and restrictions," said parent Allison Holiday. "They've been here a few years so I'm comfortable with the staff."

"I'm glad that kids are in school and wearing masks in Minneapolis," she added.

Wednesday also marks the kickoff of the district's new comprehensive district design plan which among many changes, sent many students to new schools. The plan hasn't come without controversy, however the district says that the changes ensure a well-rounded education for all students.

Superintendent Ed Graff says that this is one of the most exciting days of the school year.

"I have to tell you, it's so exciting being in person with our students," said Graff. "You know this is the first time since 2019 where we've had a first day of school in September, by all accounts, a lot of positive energy."

MPS is also offering online learning to about 600 students. There are more than 30,000 students in the district. Students and staff are required to wear a face covering. Classes will begin for pre-K and kindergarten students on Friday.

Robbinsdale schools warn of its busing problems

While everything seemed to go okay in Minneapolis, northwest of the city, the new school year was off to a bumpy start for Robbinsdale Area Schools.

The district on Wednesday informed parents of the major busing issues that the district is facing. While most students had access to buses Wednesday, district officials say nearly 1,500 students did not. With the district dealing with a shortage of bus drivers, parents were told that they would have to find a way to get their children to school until the issue is resolved.

The school district's director of facilities, operations, and transportation says this was a challenging day.

"We essentially told the parents that, yeah, they need to find a way to get their child to school on their own," said Robbinsdale Area Schools Executive Director of Facilities, Operations, and Transportation Jeff Connell. "There were 12 routes that we weren't able to have bus drivers for and you know with the bus driver shortage and the market that we're in there just wasn't anything more we could do."

The district says that it’s taking full responsibility for the issues. Wednesday afternoon, a message went out informing parents that school buses are running very late.

The district says, "We expect to do better tomorrow."