Springdale School District works to hire more bus drivers amidst new COVID-19 surge

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SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – The recent spike in COVID-19 cases could create more issues for an already-strained workforce in local schools.

Even before this pandemic, there was a school bus driver shortage across the country, but the Springdale Public Schools Transportation Director said that has become more and more of an issues since COVID-19 came into the picture.

“When Springdale wants to be the best transportation department, we want to be the best for our students and families and right now, we are struggling due to the lack of employees and drivers,” said Transportation Director Kevin Conkin.

Conkin worries this recent spike in COVID-19 cases could result in even more of a struggle. He said more than 40% of drivers are over the age of 60. According to CDC guidelines, more than 78% are medically at risk.

Conkin said one driver is out right now with COVID-19. No drivers have died due to the virus.

“Obviously, if kids cannot get home we will circle around to buildings pick those students up and take them home, but we’d rather be transparent on the front end and say, ‘Hey, this route is not going to run, if a parent can come, because it may be an hour-hour and a half before we can come pick those students up.”

Conkin said the district could still use up to 25 more drivers and is starting to train other staff like one principal and the deputy superintendent to drive buses and fill in the gaps in the meantime.

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