Schools Struggle To Get Students To Class Amid Learning Loss

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Kate Anderson Contributor
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Schools across the country are struggling to get kids to class while still recovering from the learning loss following the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The New York Times.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress released a report this month showing that students who missed three or more days of school had lower math scores than those who were not absent. Schools, however, are having trouble finding bus drivers to get children to class, with some districts delaying their start times each day and others forced to postpone school for a week, according to the NYT. (RELATED: American Students Are Now Absent At Record Rates After Missing Months Of Classroom Instruction During The Pandemic)

Jefferson County Public Schools, in Louisville, Kentucky, serves around 100,000 students each year but was forced to bring classes to a grinding halt this week after not having nearly enough drivers to meet the demand, according to the NYT. Elementary and middle school students will not return until at least Friday, while high schoolers are on hold until Monday.

A district spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the district typically has 900 drivers but has fewer than 600 this year.

“We have plenty of buses, it’s bus drivers we need more of,” the spokesperson explained. “A few years ago we had more than 900 drivers, and now we have fewer than 600. We transport 65,000 students a day.”

About 100 school buses are parked at the Arlington County Bus Depot, in response to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreak on March 31, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

About 100 school buses are parked at the Arlington County Bus Depot, in response to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreak on March 31, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP)

Hillsborough County Public Schools district in Florida is also struggling to make ends meet with 203 vacancies, Tanya Arja, chief of communications for Hillsborough, told the DCNF in a statement.

“We have about 203 bus driver vacancies. We are still actively hiring, and our current drivers are doing double runs,” Arja said. “The district has 837 planned routes; our 634 drivers are doing an amazing job getting our students to and from school safely. We sent information out to families that we anticipate delays, and we are doing all we can to provide the best possible transportation services despite the ongoing driver shortage.”

Albemarle County Public Schools in Charlottesville, Virginia, informed 1,000 families that they did have a bus route for their child due to shortages. Phil Giaramita, public affairs and strategic communications officer for Albemarle County Public Schools, told the NYT that a typical school year required 6,000 students to be transported each day, but this year they were overflowing with 10,000, according to the NYT.

Chicago and Oklahoma districts have increased pay to try to encourage more people to apply for the position, but often don’t have the funds to advertise.

“You’re kind of tapping into a dry well at a certain point, “ Barry Fuxa, public relations and communications coordinator for Stillwater Public Schools, said, according to the NYT. “There’s only so much you can do.”

An August report from Stanford University education professor Thomas Dee in partnership with The Associated Press discovered that over 25% of students in the U.S. missed over 10% of class time during the 2021-2022 school year compared to just 15% before the beginning of the pandemic. Official numbers for school absenteeism have not been released by all states for the 2022-2023 school year, but civics test scores dropped for the first time this past year along with math and reading scores for K-12 students, falling to record lows seen in the 1990s due to the lockdowns.

This article has been updated with comment from Hillsborough County Public Schools.

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