CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Bus driver shortages, traffic snarling roads around schools and now, a crossing guard shortage. Concerned parents have been bringing these concerns to 10 On Your Side every day since school started.
One Chesapeake parent said he is concerned for his children’s safety when they cross the street near their school. “What we’ve seen is year’s past is a crossing guard,” Jonathan Rau said. “Unfortunately, we went down there and rode our bikes with our children and there was no crossing guard around.”
Earlier this week, 10 On Your Side’s Madison Glassman took a drive to the middle school and saw a crossing guard closer to the school, but not at the intersection of Battlefield Blvd. and Johnstown Road.
A Chesapeake police spokesperson said they currently have one crossing guard assigned to this school and that there hasn’t been a person assigned to that intersection in years. The department has a total of nine open positions out of a full staff of 24.
“It becomes a risk concern for our children,” Rau said. “Is it worth it? The answer was no. We decided to just drop off our kids and pick them up. We’re fortunate that we’re able to accommodate this but we’re concerned for the other students at this school who may not have the opportunity.”
Safety is top of mind for Rau, but so is transparency.
“We’re really discouraged that the school system or someone in the city did not notify us that the cross(ing) guards would no longer be available at this intersection,” he said.
The Chesapeake police spokesperson said six people are currently undergoing background checks to fill positions.
10 On Your Side reached out to all the school districts in the seven Hampton Roads cities to learn about their crossing guard staffing. Here’s what we learned:
- Norfolk: A police spokesperson said there are 20 vacancies out of 80 positions. In Norfolk, crossing guards are a paid position and not a volunteer position. In 2019, the spokesperson said the hourly rate for School Crossing Guards increased from $12 per hour to $18 per hour. The Norfolk Police Department is currently accepting applications for School Crossing Guards. For more information, click here.
- Portsmouth: A spokesperson says they have 13 crossing guard vacancies currently (8 out of the 21 positions are filled.) In Portsmouth, crossing guards are a paid position through the district. A spokesperson said school security officers undergo the requisite training to perform the duties of the crossing guard, as needed. Auxiliary Services and Transportation Services staff have also been used to help provide support.
- Hampton: A spokesperson tells 10 On Your Side they’re not seeing a shortage. Officials said the school division in collaboration with the Hampton Police Division created a hybrid program pre-pandemic to address any shortages. They add the crossing guard position is part-time. Currently, HPD has nine people staffed as part-time crossing guards through their department. Additionally, through the district’s hybrid program, some Hampton City Schools staff are identified and trained to be certified crossing guards by HPD to fill any vacancies.
- Virginia Beach: WAVY is still waiting for answers.
- Suffolk: WAVY talked to Suffolk Public Schools Superintendent Dr. John B. Gordon III who said crossing guards are a new position within the district. Dr. Gordon added they are actively working to recruit crossing guards.
- Newport News: A district spokesperson said Newport News Public Schools does not have a specific crossing guard position. Officials add the school division has a combined position known as crossing guard/teacher assistant. They tell WAVY all of the crossing guard/teacher assistant positions are currently filled.