Ten Lancaster school bus drivers out sick with flu-like symptoms

LANCASTER COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - It appears the flu virus has infiltrated some of Lancaster County Schools' staff.

School officials say ten bus drivers were out sick with flu-like symptoms at some time this week. To make matters worse, the school district has already been down ten drivers this year.

The school district runs about 150 routes, encompassing some 7,000 miles of Lancaster County a day. Director of Transportation and Safety with the school Bryan Vaughn says a full fleet of drivers would be 79.

"It's just mathematics we only have so many drivers for so many routes, we can't get everyone there at the same time so naturally there's going to be some delays," Vaughn said.

The drivers who are not ill are running their normal route, then going back to pick up a second route. Those secondary routes are running roughly 45 minutes late to school or back home in the afternoon.

To pick up some of the slack, the four transportation supervisors and two office employees who have CDLs have stepped in to take on some routes.

Vaughn hopes to have all of his staff back by Monday, but long-term says they are working to make the bus driving position more attractive.

"It's a seasonal position, 180 days out of the year," Vaughn said. "Plus, it's the only job left in America that I know of that's a split shift, they come in at 5:30 a.m., go home for a few hours and come back."

Couple shifts with pay from $10 to $14 an hour, Vaughn says it's hard to recruit. When they do have applicants, many do not meet the requirements.

"For every ten applicants we have, one will make it through all the hurdles," Vaughn said.

He says the driving record, criminal backgrounds, and drug screenings are stringent, for obvious reasons. However, even applicants who meet those qualifications may get turned down after completing the physical.

"Even if you're a good person, if you have a heart condition or diabetes that will knock you out," Vaughn explained.

He says they are working on coupling the bus driving position with other duties at the school, as well as proposing an increase in pay at some point.

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