Bus driver shortage impacts MSD’s return to school

MEDFORD, Ore. —The Medford School District just wrapped up its first week of school. But we’re learning of a problem it’s trying to fix. It’s going through a staffing crisis, but not with teachers.

“We are in a literal crisis for staffing,” said MSD Superintendent Bret Champion.

With the new school year comes a new set of challenges for the area’s largest school district. Medford School District says its experiencing major shortages in transportation.

“It is not a pleasant thing not having enough bus drivers,” said Superintendent Champion.

The district is starting the school year with half of its bus drivers. This impacts routes and how far kids are having to walk to bus stops. Some buses even ran out of space this week.

“More kids wanted to catch the bus in the morning and we were out of space, and I tell you we are not going to jeopardize the safety of kids and just pack them on there, and so we had to drive on and send another bus to go back and pick up those kids,” said Champion.

A spokesperson from the district says it made the decision to fill buses and not have students physically distance on them. That’s because there aren’t enough buses or drivers, and it’s presenting its own issues. Masking is still required.

“The downside to that is we have to quarantine a whole bunch of kids if there is a case or a close contact of cases so that’s the challenge and that’s something we’ve had to do is quarantine a whole bus of kids,” said Champion.

Champion says the upcoming vaccine requirement may continue the bus driver shortage.

“We love our folks but they have the ability to walk right across the street and everybody is hiring and maybe get a job for a little more money because everybody is hiring, likely one that doesn’t have a vaccine requirement,” said Champion.

In the meantime, the district is asking parents to drive or have them walk to school because the resources are so tapped. It has a team coming together to brainstorm how to solve this issue.

The school is also looking for custodial staff. To find out what positions are available, contact the school district.

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Jenna King is the 6pm and 11pm anchor for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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