Hillsborough County School officials say the district is facing the largest bus driver shortage it’s ever seen.By Casey Albritton

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Hillsborough County School officials say the district is facing the largest bus driver shortage it’s ever seen, bringing concerns about how children will get to school this Fall.

At the SILO Event Center on Monday, the district held one of many job fairs for this Summer. Officials say the district is short 100 bus drivers and if they can’t hire enough drivers, hundreds of students will be late to school this Fall.

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Mary Ann Rodriguez has two children in the Hillsborough County School District and says “That’s sad.”

Erin Maloney, Hillsborough County Schools Spokesperson says “Usually in any given year, we would have a shortage of about 30 bus drivers. This year we are running about 100 bus drivers short, and I’m told from our transportation team that this is the worst that they’ve ever seen.”

After a year and a half of a pandemic and a school year spent mostly at home, getting back to normal for Hillsborough County Schools isn’t so easy.

“COVID-19 has obviously made people a little more scared about getting out there. We also have kids coming back to school. More kids coming back to school so those issues together are going to create a lot of late routes,” said Maloney.

“They need to go back to school even more now. They’ve missed out on a lot because of homeschool,” said Rodriguez.

Maloney says even though the district has been holding job fairs to hire more bus drivers, not a lot of people are showing up.

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“You’ve got people who are a little more hesitant to get back out there with COVID-19. They may have health issues of their own. They may have gotten used to working from home,” said Maloney.

Rodriguez says bus drivers shouldn’t be nervous about working.

“Follow the rules, wear a mask sanitize everything, sanitize your hands and social distance,” said Rodriguez.

District officials say if they can’t hire enough bus drivers, they will use a shuttle system and add stops onto bus drivers’s routes.

In the meantime, they are going to continue with the job fairs.

“It’s kind of like a chess game. We are going to have to figure out which bus drivers are going to have to cover multiple routes and so we really want to tell parents to be patient. Be ready for this,” said Maloney.

“The jobs are out there, they need 100 bus drivers, go out and apply for the job,” said Rodriguez.

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Officials say if you are interested in becoming a bus driver, you can check out the Hillsborough County Schools district website.