BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Officials with the Berkeley County School District said bus delays are expected to continue amid a bus driver shortage and are asking parents to use alternate transportation for their children if possible.
According to a letter sent to parents on Wednesday, the district has been operating transportation services while down 40 drivers district wide this school year. District officials said until it can fully staff school buses, it was important that families be aware of the transportation challenges they face and to prepare as much as possible for delays.
BCSD officials are also asking parents to transport their child or use carpool if possible until bus lots are fully staffed, saying that those options would allow buses to be used primarily by those who do not have any other transportation options.
“While the focus recently has been on the unavailability of drivers in the Berkeley lot, which serves 9 of our 47 schools, it is important that our communities understand that all bus lots across the district have been operating with a shortage of drivers,” BCSD officials said in a statement on Wednesday.
According to the district, this shortage is not unique to the county as bus driver shortages have been reported nationwide.
The district said they have looked at options to contract external bus service providers, but say those providers are also facing staffing challenges as well and unable to provide support to the district at this time.
“The District has implemented several strategies to recruit and retain drivers including financial incentives, budgeted pay increases and increased promotion of job opportunities via digital platforms and career fairs,” BCSD official said. “We will continue these efforts to recruit and retain drivers.”
“We greatly appreciate everyone who has worked with us so far this week to ensure that students were safely transported to and from school, whether by bus, parent, or carpool,” district officials said. “We understand that this has not been an easy task and want you to know how much we appreciate everyone’s efforts this week, to include our permanent drivers and our school and district CDL certified staff. Again, thank you for supporting our students and schools. We could not have made it this far without you.”
The effects of a demonstration from bus drivers on Friday on the Berkeley Lot were still being felt earlier this week. On Monday, hundreds of parents across Berkeley County were trying to figure out transportation for their kids to and from school as school bus drivers were off the job for a second day demanding better working conditions.
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