Absences Accruing: Bus Driver Shortage at DSA
BY LIAM JONES
Crowds of students stand in the freezing cold waiting for their bus to arrive. They wait for long minutes that feel like hours until it becomes clear that the bus isn’t arriving. Parents have to come a long distance to take their children home.
The entirety of DPS, including DSA, has had driver absences lately. Due to this, there has been a need for substitute bus drivers to take students home, and occasionally there is no bus driver at all, forcing students to contact parents to drive them home.
“The bus driver shortage is impacting DSA by students arriving late to school impacting students' instructional time… Afternoon dismissal is also impacted by the shortage of drivers by students arriving home later than they would normally. Families must adjust their schedule to come pick up their student or wait for their student to arrive home much later than they would normally,” DSA administrator Cornelius Redfearn stated.
COVID-19 has affected many schools, which can cause worry for bus drivers who have to drive many students home daily.
“I do not know the main cause of driver absenteeism but I would think that one of the causes is the current pandemic we are still living. COVID-19 does not discriminate. Even if you are not having any symptoms, if you test positive one is required to quarantine,” Redfearn explained.
In the case that a bus driver is absent, there are things that a student and their parents should have prepared for the possibility that a bus driver is absent.
“I would encourage ALL families to have a Plan B in place in the event the bus does not arrive. Again, this is likely an inconvenience for families but it is the only solution that I can suggest if the bus does not arrive. It should be noted that if a student is absent due to bus transportation, the student absent will be excused,” Readfearn said.
There are issues with bus driver shortages not just at DSA, but across the United States. In response to this, on January 4, the US Department of Transportation, alongside the Department of Education, have given States the option of waiving the part of the commercial driver's license test in which takers of the test must identify certain engine components of cars. DPS has also given raises for bus drivers to help.
“This announcement aims to alleviate some of the labor shortage challenges schools are facing and is one of many resources the Department continues to provide to safely keep schools open for full-time, in-person learning,” the announcement on the Department of Education website read.
The issue of bus driver absences delaying student arrival to home or class is a bigger issue this year than ever before. This can affect learning time for students significantly. However, DPS has been working on this issue.
“Our bus drivers are committed to serving the schools, students and DPS… Our transportation department does everything within their power to secure drivers when they are aware of any shortage… I simply ask that we are understanding and try to exercise patience knowing everything is being done to resolve the issue of getting students to school and home safely in a timely manner,” Redfearn said.