Bus Driver Shortage Raises Questions About Online School School Bus Driver Shortage Raises Questions About Online School

Some families worry what driver shortages could mean for children.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – Less than a month has passed since the first day of school for Syracuse students. In that time, schools have been hit by relatively few COVID-19 cases – but they’ve faced continuing restrictions, along with TikTok-led vandalism challenges and the continuing driver shortage that’s left some students struggling to get to class.

The shortage – in combination with a rise in COVID-19 cases among bus drivers – has seen Rome City School District, about 45 minutes outside Syracuse, move their students back online for the week. Now, some Syracuse parents are worried that their own children will return to the Zoom classes they spent over a year in during the pandemic.

“I don’t want online, I don’t think anybody really does,” said Molly Francis-Lutwin, whose children attend school in Syracuse. “Maybe some kids prefer it, maybe older kids, but a lot kids want school, and so do teachers.”

Francis-Lutwin homeschooled her children last year. She said that, while she knew they would be safe in online school, she worried they’d find it difficult to differentiate between school and time off if everything was digital. Now that they have returned to in-person classes, she hopes they’ll be able to stay.

“My kids are younger, and I wanted it to be a little more consistent, so I decided to pull them out because of that,” Francis-Lutwin said. “But they’re in school now, so I definitely would be concerned if we had to go online.”

Last month, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul announced a series of outreach efforts intended to curb the shortage. Over 500,000 New Yorkers with commercial driver’s licenses were encouraged to apply to drive, waiting periods were cut, and those without CDL’s were encouraged to apply for one.

Still, many students are struggling to get to school on time, if at all. In a letter to Governor Hochul, Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. asked for emergency assistance to keep schools open, citing “incredible hardship on our working families, who with no notice, are forced to find care for their children.”

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