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Minnesota school bus drivers say 'devastating' driver shortage demands action

The struggle to fill school bus routes has reached a breaking point, they say

 

September 14, 2021

RICHARD TSONG-TAATARII • richard.tsong-taatarii@startribune.com

Teresa Jakubowski dropped off the last students on her route Monday in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan district. She has been driving a bus for nine years.

School bus drivers and the unions that represent some of them say school districts and state lawmakers should act quickly to address the "devastating" driver shortage that's prompted major delays and scheduling headaches as Minnesota students return to school.

Speaking Monday in a virtual news conference, drivers and union leaders said the yearslong struggle to fill bus driver jobs has reached a breaking point this fall. On top of longstanding challenges like pay and irregular hours, they said many drivers have opted out of the field because of COVID-19-related health concerns, more frequent schedule shifts, and other pandemic-related complications. As a result, school systems are scrambling; St. Paul Public Schools was forced into last-minute route cancellations and Minneapolis Public Schools is offering incentives to families who drive their own students to school.

The problem is happening across the country; in Massachusetts this week, the governor activated the National Guard to help fill in on school bus routes.

https://www.startribune.com/minnesota-school-bus-drivers-say-devastating-driver-shortage-demands-action/600096887/

 

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