More Parents Are Driving Their Kids to School—and One School in Delaware Is Even Paying Them To

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The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted schools throughout the country in more ways than one. The pandemic has forced students to adapt to virtual learning from home, teachers to navigate platforms like Zoom and Google Classroom, and has made recess a socially distanced affair.
On top of all that, there’s another unintended consequence for schools—one that’s not as easily recognized but is having just as big of an impact—a shortage of school bus drivers. And it’s gotten so bad in some places, that it’s forced one Delaware school to start paying parents to drive their kids to school every day.
front of a school bus
There is currently a shortage of school bus drivers across the country.

Delaware school’s program to get parents to drive kids to school

EastSide Charter school in Wilmington, Delaware is offering parents $700 per year, per child, to pick up and drop off their children every day. This means, if a family has three children attending the school, they’ll be paid $2,100 for the year.
CBS News reports that of the school’s 500 students, over 150 of their parents have volunteered to drive their kids in exchange for the cash incentive. That’s more than 30% of parents!
The program comes after the coronavirus pandemic brought on a sharp decline in Delaware’s bus driver supply.

Bus driver shortages are a trend nationwide

Delaware isn’t alone in facing a bus driver shortage, as the trend has been seen in Colorado, Virginia and Pennsylvania as well. In Pittsburgh Public School districts, 800 students who live in close proximity to their school have been told they have to walk to school, due to the labor shortage.
Despite the problem being widespread throughout the country, EastSide Charter school is the one of the only academic institutions to provide monetary compensation to parents for driving their kids to school. In Chesterfield, Virginia, the school superintendent posted on Facebook, telling parents the district was short about 100 drivers and begging them to consider transporting their kids themselves, or let older, licensed students drive themselves.
Instead of offering parents a cash incentive, some schools are offering it to new drivers. In Vermont, drivers who stay on another year are being offered $1,000. A school in New York is offering new drivers up to $27/hour and a $2,000 starting bonus.
There are typically bus driver shortages every year, but the pandemic has increased the problem significantly, according to the National School Transportation Association. This trend isn’t surprising, as it seems the pandemic has left every industry from restaurants to health care understaffed.

More kids in general are being driven to school

While bus driver shortages are presenting themselves to be a problem nationwide, more parents than ever before are electing to drive their children to school each day. Many school districts throughout the country are requiring all students to come back, with only a few exceptions. For many parents, driving their children each day is a way to limit their exposure to the coronavirus during a school day.
According to a survey conducted by Cars.com, as reported by School Transportation News, only 38% of parents said they feel comfortable putting their elementary-aged child on a school bus. For parents who previously utilized school transportation and changed their mind, 55% say coronavirus is to blame.
Getting kids to school safely has always been the main priority for parents, school districts, and bus drivers alike. In the face of coronavirus, everyone involved needs to adjust and adapt to accomplish that goal.

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