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School district addressing bus driver shortage in North Okanagan-Shuswap

Successful recruitment efforts to help make school buses available for extracurricular activities
Due to staffing shortages, School District 83 put a hold on school buses being used for extracurricular activities until more drivers were available. (File photo)

Staffing shortages have impacted transportation in School District 83.

Superintendent Donna Kriger mentioned this challenge in her report to the school board during its Jan. 18 meeting. It came up as she was talking about the temporary closure of Armstrong Elementary School, where in-person learning resumed on Jan. 24.

“I want to bring to the board’s attention that we are attempting to just pause on extracurricular travel outside our district,” said Kriger, adding she’d spoken with the school district’s transporation department and it was anticipated there’d soon be more drivers available. “I’ve been told that as we near the end of January, that we’re suspecting that our numbers of drivers will improve, therefore we’re looking to be able to provide additional opportunities for kids…”

SD83 transportation manager Andrea Kathrein told the Observer via email the school district is going through the same challenge currently being experienced by the rest of the province when it comes to staff absences. She said the transportation department has prioritized covering daily transportation of students to and from school .

“Our transportation department is experiencing an increase in driver shortages due to retirements and absences,” said Kathrein. “We are excited to be training a couple of new drivers to add to our spare board as a result of persistent recruiting and training. This will provide more availability for additional services like extracurricular activity bussing.”

Kriger said with additional drivers, the school district will be able to provide “additional opportunities for our kids for the sake of their well-being and their physical well-being.”

Read more: Armstrong Elementary School to reopen next week, students reminded to wear masks

Read more: North Okanagan-Shuswap trustees cautioned COVID-19 may push some schools online
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Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor, Salmon Arm Observer
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