Halifax County faculty system experiences scarcity of substitute bus drivers | Training
Every day, Tammy Moore, director of transportation at Halifax County Public Schools, thinks, “Will there be bus drivers today managing all the routes?” as they continue to look for additional bus drivers and replacement drivers.
Often times, bus drivers have to double their routes to get all bus drivers home from school. Sometimes moors and / or maintenance personnel need to get behind the wheel and drive a bus route.
“I’ve driven several routes this year. I drove a few stretches a lot, ”said Moore. “All hands are on deck.”
HCPS has between 125 and 130 buses on the roads each day of the school year, in addition to 27 car routes and special needs drivers, Moore said. She explained that while the school system does not have a shortage of regular bus drivers, many of those bus drivers have been absent this school year for “various reasons” and the school system does not have enough replacement bus drivers to fill in regular bus drivers who are not available to serve theirs Routes to drive.
Moore said she believes COVID-19 is the main reason behind the shortage of replacement bus drivers.
“A lot of people just don’t want to get on a bus now,” she said.
When the school traffic director first started driving a school bus 20 years ago, she said the list of replacement bus drivers filled the entire front and back of a piece of paper. Moore said the list was only a “small section of the front sheet of a page.”
HCPS Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg pointed out that the current bus driver shortage is a nationwide problem that not only affects the local school system, as some school districts even pay parents to run bus routes. He asks parents to put up with the school system while working out solutions.
“We apologize to the people in advance; 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 distances to double their distances. Moore explained that the bus drivers run their regular bus routes and once they finish that route they will return to school and pick up the students waiting there and take them home, taking a second route in the afternoon.
For the students, these two-way routes mean that they have to wait 20 to 30 minutes in school after school to get on a school bus and drive home for the day. Moore added that due to COVID-19 safety protocols, the bus driver must sanitize the school bus after driving a route before letting more students on the bus for their second route, which takes time.
The school system sometimes has very little knowledge that a bus driver is not available to drive a route that afternoon, and because of this, it is difficult to let parents know in advance which bus routes will be delayed, Moore said.
“If you’re the parent of a bus driver and you are concerned, call the school or the bus shop and we can let you know if your child’s bus is one of the buses that is delayed that day,” Moore offered.
HCPS is running a replacement bus driver training course in the final week of October, and anyone interested in becoming a replacement bus driver is welcome to drop by the bus shop behind Halifax County Middle School and pick up an application. Moore said several people have already picked up applications and she hopes more will come for an application.
The school system will pay for bus driver training for each applicant after he or she completes five days of replacement bus driving, noted Moore. She said replacement bus drivers must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) with PNS endorsements, pass a physical exam and drug test, and pass a criminal background check.
Moore advocates higher wages for replacement bus drivers, which she believes would encourage more people to apply for the position.
“I’m really pushing for bus drivers to pay more because they’re busy,” said Moore.
Replacement bus drivers currently make just under $ 60 a day, and regular full-time bus drivers make between $ 79 and $ 86 a day, according to the school transportation director.