Miami Dade college students return to highschool sporting masks, lack of faculty bus drivers

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Florida. – We know that the beginning of any school year can be stressful enough. But when you add concerns about COVID-19, and now new concerns about a statewide bus driver shortage, it has resulted in many parents scrambling to make last-minute replacement plans while kids return to class across Miami-Dade County.

“With very few exceptions, students are picked up and taken to school on time,” said Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County’s public schools. “We expect very few incidents with significant delays other than the usual ones we see in South Florida.”

The superintendent was meeting with drivers Monday morning when they signed up to work at the county bus depot in northwest Miami-Dade.

According to the union chief, more than 100 bus driver positions were still vacant at the end of last week, prompting officials to make some last-minute adjustments over the weekend.

“We found that we can add more journeys to the routes and also add more time to pay drivers,” said Phyllis LeFlore.

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LeFlore is the chairman of the union for all unskilled workers, including bus drivers.

She says that by adding an extra hour to her scheduled work time, she hopes to avoid major delays on the first day.

“This gives bus drivers more flexibility to make more trips so they can add more schools to the trips,” said LeFlore.

The issue follows a nationwide trend in which many bus drivers either leave or retire early.

As a result, some parents and even some district workers say they were advised late Sunday to create a backup plan just in case there were transportation issues.

But after signing deals with some private companies over the weekend, the superintendent said they were now closer to their normal workforce.

“By last night we were pretty close to being full, which is comparable to previous years,” said Carvalho.

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