The Athens Clarke County school district is experiencing a shortage of drivers due to the increase in the flu this year.
According to the Director of Transportation, Fabian Jones, they are trying to manage with what they have for the school bus driver shortage, but their resources are being stretched.
He says that the district is near capacity with the number of bus drivers they have employed, but with flu being so bad this year it is hard for them to keep up.
The school district has a supply of on-call or substitute bus drivers. It is typically an ongoing process to bring them in to train them to eventually be given permanent positions.
However, recent levels of illness have left the pool of substitute and regularly employed drivers being depleted.
The district’s bus drivers cover all the transportation needs, not just the morning and afternoon routes. In a few cases some coaches and teachers that are trained in operating buses have helped out, not with routes, but with other commitments like transporting athletes to games.
Some bus routes that are close in proximity have been combined, as long as they don’t interfere with capacity restrictions.
They hope is that this shortage doesn’t create delays, but it may potentially extend routes about 30 minutes.
If a delay occurs in the morning the kids are still allowed to get breakfast, but Jones says a big priority is making sure the students don’t lose instructional time.
Jones says that they are constantly communicating with the school. Parents can stay updated to know if their child’s bus is delayed through the Athens Clark County School District app. They will release any delays with busses through this app.
Jones says they plan to get many people trained as quickly as possible, but are still taking into account safety measures. He assures that they would not put a driver on the road with students before they have complete confidence that the driver is adequately prepared.
The school district says they should return to normal operations once flu season is over.