School bus driver shortage amid COVID-19 pandemic

School Bus Inc. is experiencing one of their biggest school bus driver shortages due to the pandemic.
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Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 4:58 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -As summer moves forward, many families are already thinking about the new school year and what it will look like due to COVID-19. They're not the only ones. School Bus Inc., which supplies the buses for the Sioux Falls School District is also looking at its plans.

Each summer, School Bus Inc. is in need of bus drivers for the new school year. But due to COVID-19, staff say they are experiencing one of their biggest shortages.

“We’re about a third of drivers down, going into the fall. Recruitment has been a bit of a challenge because of the coronavirus outbreak. We’re having trouble keeping and retaining a lot of our older drivers,” said Christopher Montgomery, Director of Safety and HR for School Bus Inc. 

A majority of their school bus drivers are retired and drive part-time. Some don’t feel comfortable coming back because they are at a higher risk of getting COVID-19. School Bus Inc. staff say they’ll do all they can to keep their drivers and passengers safe.

“Just know that we are taking this very seriously and we’re putting in every effort that we need to to make sure that the buses are clean and safe and a healthy environment,” said Montgomery. 

They've already implemented some safety measures this summer.

“For summer school we have enacted some pretty strict social distancing measures. We’re limiting capacity on the buses, keeping the students spaced out, simple things like loading them from front to back so that the students minimize their contact with each other,” said Montgomery. 

Also, all bus drivers are required to wear masks and buses are sanitized everyday.

While staff isn’t sure what fall will look like yet, they are focused on making sure they have enough drivers. They’re looking for 30 people.

“Anybody who’d like a good part-time job that enjoys working with the community, loves working with kids, doesn’t mind the split shift hours,” said Montgomery. 

The starting wage is $17.75 an hour. School Bus Inc. also offers test drives, so folks can see if driving a bus is something they’d be comfortable doing. 

For more information on becoming a bus driver click here:

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