School bus drivers for Charles County Public Schools are calling out sick to protest salary and working conditions, spurring the school to offer online instruction for kids who can't get to classrooms.
Eighty-eight bus lines didn’t run Wednesday, forcing students who use 239 routes to find another way to school, superintendent Maria V. Navarro said in a letter to families.
Bus drivers concerns include competitive pay, lower health care costs and better working conditions, bus drivers told News4.
"We have to take this action to be heard and for things to change," one driver said. "Anybody that has a job, you know you need a raise every now and then."
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The workers are contractors, but Navarro said she personally met with drivers and attendants Wednesday to hear concerns.
About 900 students have been absent each day this week, on average, the school said. Families are asked to make backup plans for kids who ride the bus.
Teachers will begin livestreaming classes on Fridays for students who can’t get to school due to the sick out.
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“While we prefer students attend classes in person, I recognize that some are not able to get to school,” Navarro said.
The sick-out began last Friday. At least 140 bus routes have been canceled each day as dozens of buses sat still, officials said.
Here’s more information from Charles County Public Schools.
School bus driver shortages and worker issues have plagued districts in the D.C. area and beyond since the start of the year.
Calvert County Public Schools announced that 80% of buses were canceled Thursday morning.
Students at Anne Arundel County Schools were scrambling for rides earlier this month after workers for one contractor went on strike.
In Massachusetts, the National Guard was being activated to help get kids to schools at the start of the new year.