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School Bus Driver Shortage Causes Closure Of District In Hudson Valley

Pine Bush schools were forced to extend its emergency closure due to the national bus driver shortage.
Pine Bush schools were forced to extend its emergency closure due to the national bus driver shortage. Photo Credit: Wokandapix / Pixabay

Classes were canceled again for a Hudson Valley school district that is struggling to contend with the national school bus driver shortage.

Tim Mains, superintendent of Pine Bush Central School District in Orange County, said that all seven schools in the district would be closed again on Monday, Sept. 13 after being forced to close on Friday, Sept. 10 as they work to find a temporary fix for the lack of drivers.

School officials worked through the weekend to recast approximately 100 routes, but said that they would not be able to put a plan in place by Monday, forcing the extension of the emergency closure.

Mains said that after discussing it with the district's administrative team, they found a potential fix that may require some buses to drive two routes to the same school one after the other in order to compensate for routes that are currently uncovered due to the driver shortage.

As a result, some buses will have to get to schools earlier than usual and some will be picking up students in the afternoon much later than normal.

Mains noted that the temporary fix will require the district to provide additional supervision, and principals at all seven schools are working to recruit potential candidates for those positions.

“Working with Birnie Bus, we were also able to consolidate some additional runs today that should improve the situation,” Mains said.

“However, we still have to recast nearly every student’s pick-up and drop-off times, be able to prepare the staff at each school to know which students are coming or leaving at which times, and also be able to communicate that important information to all of of our families.”

While there was no bus transportation to the seven district schools, there was bus transportation for all special needs students who attend an out-of-district school. 

Mains said the district also spent the weekend creating a set of bus routes directly from the homes of high school students enrolled in C-Tech programs to their classes at BOCES and back.

“I understand that some are alarmed that I will now be using two of our emergency days so early in the school year,” he said. “You should know that we have five scheduled days to use for any type of emergency.

“As we get further into the school year, should we need to use more than five, we can, on those occasions, pivot to remote instruction if need be.”

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