North Carolina high schools suspend bus service after too many drivers test positive for COVID-19

Students at two high schools in North Carolina will be unable to ride the bus to school for at least two weeks, following dozens of bus drivers who tested positive for COVID-19.

Guilford County Schools said 76 bus drivers are temporarily out of work after testing positive for COVID-19, causing severe staffing shortages in the school district, the  News & Record reported in Greensboro, N.C.  Students can take city buses free of charge if they show a student ID, district Superintendent Sharon Contreras told the news outlet.

The school district in Guilford County first delayed bus rides on Friday, with middle schools starting an hour late that day and high school and early colleges starting an hour and a half late.

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The latest surge in COVID-19 cases led by omicron has caused severe staffing shortages across the nation's workforce, from the airline industry to public schools and more.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last month updated quarantine and isolation rules to, in part, help get people back into work faster. Among the revised guidelines, the CDC now recommends a five-day isolation period.

In order to attract and retain bus drivers during the latest wave of the pandemic, Guilford County has raised the base starting pay to $15 per hour for drivers and is offering an incentive of $1,000 per month for perfect attendance.

But Contreras, the superintendent in Guilford County, said the school district is also facing staffing shortages within schools, according to Fox 8 in Greensboro.

“It is possible that some classrooms or schools may have to close simply because we do not have enough people to provide appropriate instruction and supervision,” she said.