Shortage of Bus Drivers concerning
By: Elijah Adkins
There is a problem within schools concerning the availability of Bus drivers ever since the strike of COVID19. More reports are coming out on the shortages of School Bus drivers leaving parents to worry and children to remain in school until a solution is met.
COVID-19 made an ever-lasting effect on the economy and it’s the main reason why private-owned businesses have had to shut down and close their companies. The virus had an astronomical impact and changed the climate of the world, including schools. Schools were forced to shut down until there was a solution for the virus, but it took time for a reasonable solution could be made with satisfaction.
The government agreed upon bringing back schools during the pandemic, but in a different format. Format being virtual learning where students would be getting lectured online. An agreeable format that came with drawbacks is what occurred as the internet would be unhelpful at times, ruining the experience for teachers and students. This brought forth, the debate of whether schools should allow students to return to classrooms since the pandemic and the virus started easing up. It was a debate between those who were worried about the virus and those who preferred a better experience which was by being in the classrooms physically. The concerns addressed about remote learning or virtual learning dealt with the lack of attention by students and teachers, the lack of actually gaining knowledge and the loneliness being without peers.
This debacle ultimately leads the government to deciding that the best option was to allow classes to resume inside the school building, but give those that were still in fear, an ultimatum. The ultimatum being students can still opt to be taught remotely, benefitting both argumentative parties. With the return of schools however, there was a huge amount of people worried of returning. This included; janitors, teachers, security guards and school bus drivers amongst others. The drastic impact of the virus limited jobs such as school bus drivers due to the fear it caused and the rumors that started due to it.
Schools are scrambling and finding ways to deal with an issue like this. One solution that was reported by whec.com is schools to return to remote learning. This is a solution that the Clyde-Savannah Central School District came up with and it follows after Brockport Central School District. However, this is not the case within NYC public schools as they remain trying to handle the problem by still avoiding it.
“I have to wait for my daughter longer than usual now because there’s a shortage of school bus drivers. Her mother is currently employed and she usually gets out of her job at 6 pm, but I am also working and with my daughter being later than usual, it takes time away from me to sleep and be able to pick the mother up” Says a concerned parent.
Shortages of School bus drivers also raises concerns for the kids that are mentally disabled and cannot take a public bus on their own. It is affecting the scheduling of the parents, the scheduling of the students in sports activities and overall is creating an unusual change for everyone. The pandemic disrupted society and the virus only added fuel to the already growing fire that is the low supply of bus drivers.
“The shortages of bus drivers have been an issue even before the pandemic and the virus. It’s a low paying job where you need to have the mental capability to deal with driving a school bus filled with loud and disobedient children. All Covid did was increase the shortage and gave people an even better reason to not become a bus driver. Then there’s those bus drivers that are tired of doing this job and so they transition into the MTA, which is a better paying job than this. I will most likely remain working as a school bus driver because I have been doing it for five years and have no plans to stop yet.” Says School Bus Driver Ross Willis.
Jim Mayers is a high school composition teacher in Boston who planned a trip and ended up unexpectedly receiving a party bus with neon lights and a stripper pole. A National School Transportation Association survey reports over 80% of school districts have altered service, and 51% describing their staffing issue as “severe” or “desperate” says Daniel Herriges of strongtowns.
Where people like Ross Willis explains that the shortage of bus drivers caused from wages and fearing a virus, there are drivers such as William Cohen who left his job as a bus driver for a different reason. “I am aware of the shortage of bus drivers, but I am also aware that it’s a minimal pay job and it’s not going to help finance my life. So that’s why I trained to be an MTA bus driver and they have a different format so you are still required to take a written exam and proceed to taking a driving test. I did not find myself to be annoyed by the children and they did not make much of a ruckus. Something like the virus did not sway my decision to move to the MTA and I am already liking public transport. It is a new experience for me since you are not just dealing with the same batch of kids” says Ross Willis.
There have been planned ways of fixing the pressing issue and one of those ways were announced by the Governor of Albany, Kathy Hochul, stating that there will be a multi-agency plan and this plan will remove barriers and recruit traditional and non-traditional Commercial Driver’s License holders. “While the shortage of school bus drivers is not unique to New York State, I have directed state agencies to utilize creative approaches and use every tool at their disposal to help districts affected by the bus driver shortage” Governor Hochul says.