PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As school districts across the tri-state area battle on how to protect students in classrooms, some are trying to figure out how to get students to the schools in the first place. Schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware are struggling to find bus drivers as the shortage plagues the nation amid the pandemic.
“School districts are working diligently and working hard and trying everything they can do to figure out how to get the kids to school,” Tyler Bryan, the education associate of school transportation, tells CBS3.READ MORE: 'Most Egregious Story I've Ever Heard': Local Man Has Prostate Removed After Mistaken Cancer Diagnosis
Holcomb Bus Company is using a new approach: offering incentives to attract bus drivers.
“In a nutshell, it is a combination of our increased wages, sign on bonus and asset utilization to get the most of the driver,” Salvatore Dani says.
It’s a process that takes time, so companies are urging schools and parents to be patient.READ MORE: One Of Last Marines To Leave Afghanistan Returns Home To Hero's Welcome In Ridley Township
Ryan Dellinger with the Pennsylvania School Bus Association says, “The big thing is to not panic the schools are working with the contractors.. we want to get the kids to school safely.”
The pandemic impacts not only the number of drivers but also how fast they can get on the road; during the height of the pandemic, the DMV closed for a period of time. Some bus companies battled unemployment pay.
“We are jumping through hoops,” Susan Lippert, who is the corporate human resource manager, says. “We lost quite a bit of drivers due that and schools clothing… people who weren’t comfortable coming back or people who had children that could not go back to school.”
The shortage is impacting schools in Pennsylvania already; Pittsburgh Public Schools pushed their return back a week due to no bus drivers.MORE NEWS: WATCH: Surveillance Video Catches Olney Drive-By Shooting That Killed 1, Injured 5