The Sooke School District is flashing its signals for new bus drivers after they had to cancel a handful of routes in late November.
On Friday, Nov. 27, route 5 and 10 were cancelled, which left parents and guardians with one less option to get their kids to school. On Monday, Nov. 30, route 3 and 37 were cancelled, and the day after, route 37 was cancelled again.
“We know our system isn’t perfect,” said Lindsay Vogan, communications manager at SD62. “We know the cancellations are an inconvenience for families and we are trying hard to mitigate them. The reality though, is that we simply do not have any back-up/on-call drivers.”
The route cancellations were caused by either a driver that was sick or had an excusable appointment, such as medical, Vogan said. Though they have 39 drivers to cover the district, five more than last year, that isn’t enough.
In 2019, SD62 had four spare buses. Since the pandemic, all buses and drivers are being utilized, as they’ve had to separate levels of school into elementary, middle and secondary in line with provincial health recommendations.
Vogan said it’s been difficult to find qualified drivers willing to work on an on-call basis, especially with the cold and flu season and the doubling of routes.
She said the district has been actively looking for more drivers since the beginning of November. They require drivers with a Class 2 licence with air brake endorsement, a medical certificate within the last six months and a valid first aid certificate.
She points out that school busing is not mandated by the provincial government and not considered an essential service. SD62 provides busing for families, while other districts, such as the Greater Victoria School District does not.
The district contributes $2.7 million each year to keep up with the demand, and they receive additional funds from the provincial government as well.
Those interested in applying can visit sd.62.bc.ca/careers.
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