Just as the school year gets under way, many Green Country Schools are having trouble finding bus drivers.
The bus driver shortage isn't a new problem, but many administrators said the pandemic isn't helping
"You don't realize it until you start driving a bus and then step away how much you like the interaction with the children," said Bixby Transportation Director Gabe Hayes.
Transportation Director Gabe Hayes has been working for Bixby Public Schools for 25 years. He said it's fun to watch the students grow up right in front of his eyes.
This year, like many other districts, Bixby is having difficult time getting drivers behind the wheel.
"It was a significant impact,” said Hayes. “We actually had to eliminate about three routes so we could get started."
Bixby typically has 31 bus drivers but started the school year seven short.
Hayes said thankfully they were only transporting half the student population because of the district's schedule, but now they're looking to add those routes back. He said they usually attract a lot of retirees because of the schedule, but this year the job has been more difficult to market.
"I think this year with COVID and the risks associated with that we may not have had the response that we've had in the past, but the drivers we do have been more than willing and ready to come back,” said Hayes.
Hayes said they did meet with drivers at the beginning of the year to ease their concerns. Students and drivers are required to wear masks and they're trying to distance students as much as possible.
Bixby isn't the only district needing bus drivers. Union, Sapulpa, Sand Springs and Broken Arrow are all hiring.
“The shortage is statewide and has been that way for years so it’s a good opportunity,” said Hayes.
Several districts are hiring, and you can find links to applications here: