School bus driver shortages affecting families across the country

·2 min read

School bus driver shortages are having a ripple effect on schools, students and families across the country – and have already forced schools in at least nine states to request assistance from the National Guard.

Among them is Maryland, where some schools in the biggest district have been forced to return to remote learning, Errol Barnett reports for "CBS Saturday Morning." It's been more than two weeks since the district sent its own SOS. They asked for 200 bus drivers, said Earl Stoddard, Montgomery County's assistant chief administrative officer.

"They are still inclined to try and help us, but they're looking for resources to do it," he said.

Maryland's National Guard said in a statement to CBS News it is supporting the state's department of health with missions for COVID-19 testing, and other actions, including "patient transport" due to the current COVID-19 surge.

Schools in at least nine states have requested assistance from the National Guard.   / Credit: CBS News
Schools in at least nine states have requested assistance from the National Guard. / Credit: CBS News

For Melissa Ladd, a mother of two, no Guard means an inconsistent bus schedule, which has kept her from substitute teaching.

"I haven't been able to assist the school district in a time of great need and staffing shortages," she said.

"There's just no certainty about what will happen."

As the mother of two teenagers, Yerania Benicio faces frustrating choices.

"We have to be on-site to be able to do our jobs. And it's either that or we stay home to take care of our children," Benicio said.

As of Thursday, 16 Montgomery County public schools went virtual until at least the end of the month, as it sees record quarantine numbers of staff and students — who officials acknowledge are struggling.

"You know, the learning loss that we're now mitigating from earlier pandemic disruptions or earlier pandemic virtual learning is in many ways a significant amount of work to make up for a lot of these students," said Chris Cram, director of communications for Montgomery County Public Schools.

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