Halifax County School System Experiencing Shortage of Replacement Bus Drivers | Education

Every day, the thought that crosses the mind of Halifax County Public School Transportation Director Tammy Moore is, “Will there be bus drivers to handle all the routes today?” hui? As they continue to look for additional bus drivers and replacements.

Often, bus drivers have to double their routes to get all school passengers home. Sometimes Moore and / or maintenance personnel need to get behind the wheel and operate a bus line.

“I have already ridden several roads this year. A few routes, I drove a lot, ”Moore said. “Everyone is on the bridge. “

HCPS has between 125 and 130 buses on the routes each day of the school year, in addition to 27 routes and adapted car drivers, Moore said. She explained that although the school system has no shortage of regular bus drivers, many of these bus drivers have been absent this school year for “various reasons” and the school system does not have enough replacement bus drivers. to replace regular bus drivers. bus drivers who are not available to make their trips.

Moore said she believed COVID-19 was the main reason for the shortage of replacement bus drivers.

“A lot of people just don’t want to get on a bus right now,” she said.

When the director of school transportation started driving a school bus 20 years ago, she said the list of substitute bus drivers filled the entire front and back of a sheet of paper. Now Moore said the list only includes a “small section of the first page of a page.”

HCPS Superintendent Dr Mark Lineburg pointed out that the current shortage of bus drivers is a national problem that is not unique to the local school system, with some school districts even paying parents to drive the bus routes. He asks parents to be patient with the school system as they develop solutions.

“We apologize to people from the start; we’re working on it as best we can, ”said Lineburg.

The main solution to the shortage of replacement bus drivers that the school system has found this school year is to ask bus drivers with short trips to double their trips. Moore explained that bus drivers drive their regular bus trips, and once they have completed that trip, they return to the school and pick up the students who are waiting there and take those students home, taking a second afternoon drive.

What these dual routes mean for students is that they have to wait at school for 20 to 30 minutes after the end of the school day to board a school bus and return home for school. daytime. Moore added that due to COVID-19 safety protocols, the bus driver must disinfect the school bus after traveling one route before letting more students board the bus for their second route, which takes time .

The school system sometimes has very little notice that a bus driver will not be available that afternoon to drive a route, and for this reason, it is difficult to inform parents in advance of the routes. buses that will be delayed, Moore said.

“If you are the parent of a bus driver and are concerned about this, call the school or the bus shop and we can let you know if your child’s bus is one of the delayed buses that day,” Moore suggested.

HCPS is offering a training course for replacement bus drivers the last week of October, and anyone interested in becoming a replacement bus driver is encouraged to stop by the bus store, located behind the County Middle School of Halifax, and apply. Moore said several people have already received nominations and that she hopes more will come for nominations.

The school system will pay for bus driver training for each candidate after he or she completes five days of replacement bus driving, Moore noted. She said replacement bus drivers are required to hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) with PNS endorsements, pass a physical exam and drug test, and pass a criminal background check.

Moore is arguing for a higher salary for substitute bus drivers, which she said would encourage more people to apply for the job.

“I’m really pushing for more pay for bus drivers because they have a lot to do,” Moore said.

Replacement bus drivers currently earn just under $ 60 per day, and regular full-time bus drivers earn between $ 79 and $ 86 per day, according to the director of school transportation.

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