From kindergarten to senior year, most students rely on the bus to get them to school. But with no one to drive, seats are left empty and buses remain idle.
Most parents in Monongalia County have received updates for buses not running at least once a week for the past two months. However, the Monongalia County Schools Transportation Department advises parents not to jump the gun on dropping off and picking up their kids themselves.
"A lot of times even if we have buses parked, some of our other drivers will come off a run early and go through the absent drivers run," said Jeff Meadows, assistant to Superintendent of Transportation. "Or drivers that aren't fully loaded might pick up students as they go through the run."
Superintendent Dr. Frank Devono said the exact reason for the shortage varies.
"It's the ability to get qualified drivers. We have a high attrition rate so a lot of our drivers are obviously drivers so in that process we're trying to replace what we have," said Devono, "We're having a difficult time just getting drivers even to come on our substitute list. Because of that it makes it difficult for us to be able to meet the daily needs of the school system."
Driving a school bus isn't as simple as just putting in the application. Drivers must also go through background checks.
This isn't the first time this area has had issues with the shortage of drivers.
"Talking to other transportation directors in the state, everybody faces a driver shortage from time to time," said Meadows, "But Monongalia County, as I told you, we picked up a new regular driver this morning and a new substitute driver."
The county also expects to get four more drivers next week and has a class of about 20 for the summer. Devono said he hopes the buses will be running normal routes by the fall.
If any parent has concerns about whether or not their bus is running, call the Monongalia County Schools Department of Transportation 304-983-8204.