ATLANTA (NewsNation Now) — As summer comes to an end, school districts are welcoming students back to campus — many for the first time in more than a year.
But as students return to in-person learning, districts across the country are running into an unexpected problem — an unprecedented shortage of bus drivers.
“It is one of our serious situations we’re facing right now — right behind COVID,” said Skye Duckett with Atlanta Public Schools.
In Georgia, Atlanta Public Schools are down about 30 drivers this year.
“There’s on-demand delivery services, and UPS and FedEx and all the shippers of the world are ramping up their hiring as well to meet supply chain demands,” Duckett said. “It’s really creating a unique recruitment position for school districts to be in.”
Atlanta Public Schools bus drivers, like Trenton Dale, are now forced to fill in the gaps.
“We definitely feeling the tensions. Due to the vacancies of these jobs we have to double or triple up these routes to get these kids home,” Dale explained.
The problem is even worse in other states. Pittsburgh Public Schools delayed the start of school by two weeks as they scramble for drivers.
Montgomery County Public Schools need to fill more than 100 vacancies in Maryland, or thousands of students won’t have a ride.
Meanwhile, in Delaware, one charter school wants to pay parents to pick up and drop off their kids instead of using the bus. The going rate is $700 per child.
In Indiana, Carmel Clay Schools implemented No-Bus Zones for students who live within a 1-mile radius of a school building. They also moved to a three tier bell system to accommodate for less bus drivers, which will affect start times.