LaGRANGE, Ga. (WRBL) – The Troup County School System is currently experiencing a shortage of school bus drivers.

Chip Giles, the Transportation Director for the Troup County School System, said the school system has exhausted their substitute drivers options and are now using supervisors and mechanics to fill the bus routes.

“We actually hit the point about 4-5 weeks ago where we thought we were going to start delaying school routes and coming and picking up some students an hour-and-a-half late and delivering them home an hour-and-a-half late because we simply did not have drivers,” said Giles.

TCSS buses run 139 routes every day and Giles said the school system is missing seven full-time drivers to complete the routes effectively.

Giles credits the COVID-19 pandemic for the major shortage of drivers, he said some drivers are currently out due to extended illness due to COVID-19. He also said this is the first year he has seen a shortage of bus drivers because the job is typically appealing due to the schedules and time off.

He said applicants are trained in-house and are compensated for their training time. Applicants can also take their CDL license test while training with TCSS.

“I’d just like to emphasize how appreciative we are to our bus drivers and monitors. If you think about it, our drivers and monitors are sometimes the one school person that a student will see for six or seven years at a time. Sometimes they’re the most stabilizing people in a students life. They do a really good job with the kids and keeping them centered and focused and do a lot of important things beyond driving buses safely,” said Giles.