LANCASTER, S.C. (WBTV) - In any given year, bus drivers could be hard to recruit. The coronavirus has created a new set of recruiting problems.
Driving a school bus comes with many responsibilities already. This year, more are piling up.
”While driving a school bus and keeping your child safe, they’re also having to add new protocols to keep the bus safe for your child to ride,” says former bus driver Chris Waits.
Those new protocols include cleaning between each student drop-off, making sure students wear masks and instructing students to sit in their assigned seats.
New protocols aside, Lancaster County Schools has another issue to deal with. The district has to accommodate longer routes and reduced capacity while short seven drivers. It leaves little room for drivers to call out of work.
”Before if someone called out if was somewhat easy,’ says Waits. “Now with the pandemic and it only being able to have 50 percent, it’s going to be frustrating.”
Lancaster County Schools Transportation Director Bryan Vaughn says the shortage is not going to impact getting your student to and from school. The hardships point back to the coronavirus: face-to-face training stopped and certifications needed for new drivers are only slowly getting back up again.
”All those things combined make it really difficult to recruit bus drivers,” says Vaughn.
He is not letting that stop his team from recruiting. Some of those recruits are crossing the state line from districts going virtual this year. ”It may be our gain and may be their loss, but at the end of the day these folks want to come to work and their gonna work somewhere,” he says.
Vaughn says there is always another hurdle to jump over. This time, the hurdle looks like a potential shutdown districts saw in June. This is a possibility for Vaughn if cases continue to rise.
”We’re concerned that you go out and start recruiting a bunch of people and you start committing yourself and then two three weeks into the school year you have a shutdown,” says Vaughn.
With the future unknown, Vaughn says the district is prepared for many different scenarios. All he and his team ask from parents is patience.
”Things are not going to be perfect but we’re going to do everything we can to make sure kids are served well and safely,” he says.
Vaughn told me if a bus driver does call out, they are still going to make sure they do not go over the state’s set capacity. It could mean pulling four or five other buses to accommodate the need.