Bus driver shortage and COVID force Bangor schools to remote learning

Bus Driver shortage
Bus Driver shortage(whsv)
Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 4:53 PM EST
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Bangor Schools that returned to in-person classes Wednesday did not have bus service available to bring students to school.

On Tuesday, all schools had switched to remote learning.

Bangor interim superintendent Kathy Harris-Smedberg told us too many drivers either had COVID-19 or were out sick.

By Wednesday, several schools were scheduled to have bus service, but Harris-Smedberg says at the last minute, she received a call from Cyr Bus Line saying drivers weren’t available.

She says she was led to believe some drivers are refusing to work.

Cyr Bus Line is contracted to provide bus service for the Bangor School Department.

”Many people are…they’re fearful.” Said Harris-Smedberg. “They’re concerned that they might also contract it and that they’re not providing the level of safety they’d like to provide. They work very hard and are really committed to making sure the safety of the children are at high levels, and I think they just felt they couldn’t achieve that as well as their own safety. We’ve had a very good working relationship with them, and I would hate to think we couldn’t continue to do that. It’s certainly not their fault that we have a pandemic. Hopefully we can come up with a good solution for all of us.”

In an email, Vice President of Cyr Bus Line told TV5 they were dealing with a driver shortage before the pandemic, and it has worsened due to COVD-19.

“Before the Covid-19 pandemic began, we were dealing with a driver shortage.   Covid 19 has made that shortage even more pronounced.  Thanks to an extremely dedicated team of drivers, monitors and managers, we have been able to get kids to school safely despite the difficulties.    Unfortunately, the recent increase in positive cases and people needing to quarantine, has had an effect on our limited supply of bus drivers.   We are doing everything that we can to deal with this unprecedented situation, get drivers back on the road and kids safely to school.”

All Bangor schools will continue with remote learning only until Monday, January 25th. It’s unclear if transportation for students will be sorted out by then.

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