BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The road back to school is a little bumpy for some local districts. They’re dealing with a major bus driver shortage, just weeks away from the start of the new year.

“It’s real hard to find bus drivers right now,” said Robbin Marshall, with Baltimore City Public Schools. “We know that there’s going to be issues transporting kids if we don’t get these positions filled.”

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Across the state, school districts say it’s not uncommon to be short on bus drivers. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has created extra challenges.

“Bus drivers who are seasonal saw employment elsewhere,” said Bob Mosier, an Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesman.

In Baltimore City on Thursday, people lined up to apply for more than 60 open positions.

“Coming out of the pandemic, I’m trying to change my career field,” said applicant Brittany Proctor.

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Some districts and contractors are getting creative. First Student is offering drivers a $3,000 signing bonus.

“People love meeting students and they are the first face that a student will see in the morning and the last face they will see in the afternoon,” said Kenny West, assistant director of transportation operations for Baltimore County Public Schools.

But until districts come up with a plan, they’re asking parents to be patient and prepared.

“If we don’t get the number of bus drivers that we need then we have to combined routes and make adjustments there,” Mosier said.

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Both Baltimore County and Howard County schools say there will be precautions in place for drivers and students such as windows rolled down and masks required at all times.

Kelsey Kushner