A Letter to SCPS


Stafford County Public Schools have made a constant effort to alter and make decisions for the betterment of our schools. The past two years have been a rollercoaster of new ideas and plans – some approved, others not. In this Issue of the Smoke Signal we highlight the inconsistencies that have been brought to light, and we put emphasis not on the concrete decisions themselves but instead on the process and sense of uncertainty.

Inconsistency and broken promises result in mistrust and frustration. The students, parents and staff that serve and support our county should feel as though their voices are heard and their thoughts considered. Can they place their trust in the people making these decisions?  

At the beginning of the 2021 school year, the student body was told that masks would be worn for 30 days and then the mandate would be reassessed. That directive was never mentioned again. According to the Department of Human Resources for Stafford County Public Schools, mask protocols are to remain in place so long as the public health emergency – declared by Governor Northam in Executive Order 51 – remains in place.

As the school day comes to a close, hallways bustle with students. Some bus riders stay in their classrooms, and others hustle to the cafeteria to await their rides home. Bus routes are combined with other bus routes. At Stafford, bus 45’s combined route-loads with 225. Students are expected to listen to the afternoon announcement and know where to go. Busses begin arriving as early as 3:45 and bus riders are not usually cleared out of the building until 5 in the afternoon. Our highschool has the most busses of any highschool in the county. The shortage for bus drivers is clear, but an immediate solution is not. 

Since bus drivers have additional elementary, middle, and highschool routes, they are overwhelmed and fall behind. Instead of trying to stretch school start and stop times, to accommodate for students “being late to school,” why aren’t there more bus drivers? 

This isn’t a foregin issue. The Smoke Signal reported Stafford County’s shortage of bus drivers in 2019. My thought is that when students left the building due to Covid and virtual learning became the norm, the problem became irrelevant. Former bus drivers might have found work elsewhere or maybe they were compensated with unemployment. We are once again in the building, yet with the same problem. Interim Superintendent Stanley Jones states work is being done to solve this issue.. 

Since July, 12 new drivers joined the SCPS team, 53 are in class, with another 72 offered letters of intent on Saturday,” Jones said in an email on September 24, 2021.

Getting home later in the day for some means limiting their ability to work, having sports practice or club meetings late into the evening and younger siblings arriving home before the older ones. It seems like a waiting game. SCPS is trying to solve the shortage by advertising job opportunities, and waiting for interested people to apply.