Severe driver shortage leaves some California kids waiting at the school bus stop

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A severe shortage of school bus drivers, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and competition from commercial businesses, has districts combining and collapsing routes and scrambling to find enough drivers for the ones that are left. New legislation could make matters worse.

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Although California has had an acute shortage of school staff throughout the pandemic, school officials cite the lack of bus drivers as one of their biggest problems.

A large banner is strung across the San Diego Unified bus yard advertising bus driver jobs. District vans sport ads announcing job openings for drivers. The district is short 50 drivers this school year, forcing it to combine and reorganize routes, as well as press other workers — with the required Class B license — into service as drivers, said Marceline Marques, operations support officer for the district.

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