Bus Drivers - The Forgotten Essential Workers
Heroes work here. We heart nurses. Thank you, essential workers.
Signs like these popped up all over the country.
The pandemic shined a spotlight on just how vital countless professions are for daily life. Nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers were rightly heaped with praise. But the number of essential workers extends far beyond the medical field. One important role on that list is school bus drivers.
A recent national shortage has brought their value into sharp focus.
How Bad Is School Bus Driver Shortage?
Districts all over the country are feeling the pinch. This has resulted in frequent delays, route changes, and even unplanned remote learning days.
According to one study, 38% of respondents send their children to school on a bus. Unfortunately for many kids, this can all boil down to a simple reality. No drivers, no school. Kids in rural and lower-income areas can be hit especially hard.
But one statistic in particular speaks volumes. Earlier this year, districts in nine states requested help from the National Guard.
This also has the potential to linger. According to research from Automatic Data Processing, more than half of all school bus drivers are aged 55 or older. As many of these drivers either retire or cut back on hours, the overall shortage could increase.
What Can You Do To Help?
With such a massive, nationwide obstacle, it’s easy to feel like there’s nothing you can do. However, two seemingly small things that could help make a difference.
The first is to share with your friends, family, and social network about the urgent need for drivers. People without younger kids may not even be aware of the issue. With rising pay and incentives, now is a great time to make a career change.
The second is to simply show appreciation. Although National School Bus Driver Appreciation Day is celebrated annually on February 22, gratitude doesn’t need to be limited to a single day. If your child relies on a bus driver to get to and from school each day, tiny acts of kindness can go a long way. Freshly baked cookies or a heartfelt thank you can make an impact. After all, drivers who feel appreciated are less likely to consider a job somewhere else