The first day of Columbia public schools starts next week and school leaders are preparing to deal with one of the biggest changes from last year -- bus routes.
School officials tell ABC 17 News they've dismantled the routes used in past years and made new ones to fit the new three-tier bell schedule.
School officials said route changes have been two years in the work. They know there will be some problems the first week. But what school officials are asking for is patience from all parties. They said this is one of the biggest changes and they know it will throw some for a loop.
Bus drivers spent Tuesday preparing for the first school day in an orientation. School officials said it may be awhile before everybody gets used to the new schedules, but the first day is coming up in one week. They said the school district and the bus company has tried to find the best and quickest routes to get students to school.
“First Student brought in drivers to actually go out and operate different routes throughout the summer and timed them as practice,” Columbia Public School's David Wilson said.
District leaders said they'll be doing dry runs later this week. They believe if there is a route that doesn't work out the way they thought, there is enough time to tweak it. But right now there are a few unknown factors they can't prepare for.
“What you don't know is kids getting lost, kids taking time getting on, so that takes usually a week for routes to settle down and once they do get settled down they generally tend to work better,” First Student's Wayne Gensler said.
Bus officials said it takes about a week or two for all of the routes to get the kinks out. They say by doing the dry runs this week, they can do all they can do to prepare. But they know there will still be some problems.
“On the first official day of school next Tuesday, that First Student has done everything they can to prepare the drivers for the first day of school,” Wilson said.
District leaders said they mailed students their pick up times and locations on Friday. If you haven't gotten yours, you can click here and figure out your pickup location and times.