SUNBURY, Ohio (WCMH) – Morning and afternoon routines are changing for some central Ohio families.

Starting Wednesday, many bus routes for Big Walnut Local Schools are changing, with the district saying pick up and drop off times are changing, as are some bus stops.

“The only way we can continue to provide transportation to all students who currently receive it is to make this switch,” said Big Walnut Superintendent Ryan McLane.

McLane said the biggest impact from these changes will be felt by students in grades five through 12.

The middle of the school year, he said, is not an ideal time for these changes, but the district couldn’t wait.

“I just hope everybody makes it there safely and all the kids feel secure on the bus and not overcrowded,” parent Jessica Shelby said.

Shelby has a son in fifth grade, saying his bus route and schedule aren’t affected much by the changes, but other families are likely seeing more changes.

“A lot of districts in central Ohio and around the state are facing a similar situation, so we’re in the same boat and we’re just down to a point where we can’t sustain our current bus routes, so we’re doing some re-routing,” McLane said.

The changes are needed because the district doesn’t have enough bus drivers. Fifth, sixth, and high school students used to be on the same buses with seventh- and eighth-grade students on different buses. Now, all those grades will be on the same bus and the district will be using what it’s calling a hub and transfer system.

“Now we’re going to be able to pick up all of those kids and then bring them together and then essentially redistribute them to get them to the building they need to, so we can do that with fewer drivers because we’re not sending two buses into the same neighborhood,” McLane said.

According to McLane, to make the old system work with a driver shortage, some middle and high school students were getting dismissed early and missing class time. He said it wasn’t working for anyone and while the timing of this change isn’t great, it needs to happen.

“I will be the first to admit this is not the ideal time to make a change,” he said. “We do get it’s not convenient, but we hope you can understand why we’re doing it.”

“It is just one of those things,” Shelby said. “It is what it is and I think after COVID, we’ve just learned to be flexible.”

If families experience any issues such as children not being picked up, McLane said they can start by calling their child’s school, then the transportation office.