Superintendent says shortage of support staff led to closure of Grainger County Schools

Local News

RUTLEDGE, Tenn. (WATE) — Grainger County Schools were closed on Friday due to a shortage of support staff including bus drivers and substitutes, according to Superintendent James Atkins.

Atkins posted to the school district’s social media Friday around 5:30 a.m. about the closure, saying they were short multiple bus drivers and substitutes and were choosing to take an inclement weather day.

“For weeks, I have expressed my concern about the lack of bus drivers and substitutes. Today, we are now short multiple bus drivers and simply can’t cover all the routes with our substitute drivers,” Atkins said on the school district’s Facebook page Friday. “Doubling up on routes is not even an option. Therefore, I have no choice but to call off school today. Our plan is to count today as one of our 10 inclement weather days assuming the state allows. Grainger County Schools will be CLOSED today. Again, Grainger County Schools will be CLOSED today, Friday, August 27, 2021 due to a lack of bus drivers. Only our employees that work snow days will be required to work today. We apologize for the inconvenience. Thank you, Dr. Atkins”

School districts from across the country are reporting shortages in bus drivers ahead of the new school year as students return to in-person learning amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Associated Press recently reported how the driver shortfall isn’t new, but a labor shortage across many sectors and the pandemic’s lingering effects have made it worse, since about half the workforce was over 65 and more vulnerable to the virus, said Joanna McFarland, co-founder and CEO of school ride-service company HopSkipDrive, which tracks school bus issues.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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