The Montana School District is offering vouchers for $4,000 and inviting people to try out the big yellow buses in hopes of recruiting them for jobs that are struggling to fill schools when the children return for face-to-face classes.
A school district in Delaware asked parents to pay $700 for their transportation, and in Pittsburgh, they postponed the start date and said that hundreds of children would have to walk to school.
Bus Driver Shortage – Latest Problem For US Schools
A shortage of bus drivers complicates the start of the school year and is already gripped by the highly infectious delta variant of COVID19, conflicting disagreements over masking requirements, and the challenge of making up for the education lost during last year’s pandemic.
Driver shortages are not new, but labor shortages in many sectors and the long-term effects of the pandemic have exacerbated them, as about half of the workforce is over 65 and vulnerable, told Joanna McFarland, co-founder, and CEO of school ride-service company HopSkipDrive.
A survey conducted by the company, HopSkipDrive, found that almost 80% of the counties found difficulty finding enough bus drivers.
“It was a watershed moment,” McFarland said.
First Student, a contract company that provides bus services to school districts throughout the district, held what they called “Big Bus, Nevermind” in Montana and other states this summer to give everyone a chance to try their hand at driving.
It is believed that this could remove obstacles for those who are interested in helping children get to and from school safely, said Dan Redford of First Student in Helena, Montana.
“We set up a fenced field in the fairgrounds and invited the public to come and find out that driving a big bus is not a problem,” said Redford. “They’re pretty easy to manage. You are sitting high and you just need good eyesight.
Helena has 50 bus drivers and requires 21 more people at the school before classes start on August 30, in what Redford says is unprecedented.
Attendance at Helena’s event declined, but similar protests like the recent one in Seattle led to more requests. The Delta Option also led the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend universal use of masks in schools,
especially for children too young to be vaccinated, but Redford says there is a strong wave of protests in the area against mask-wearing.
The first apprentice lost several of Helena’s drivers due to the requirement to wear masks on buses. “I know I’ve had a lot of drivers who didn’t believe in it and didn’t want to deal with it,” says Redford.
For Parents, Headaches on Olares Escort Buses arriving at Monica Huff was quarantined at home due to a possible case of COVID19 on Wednesday when she learned that her 14-year-old son’s school bus did not appear at a stop in the suburb of Houston.
“I was nervous, I was scared. I don’t know where he is, ”she said. She felt especially helpless because she couldn’t find him on her own without risking infecting others.
Eventually, she learned that he was the driver. An elementary school bus picked up her older children and sent them to high school. She was relieved to learn that he had arrived, although his late start time was also troubling as he was still at the distant school early last year.