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DeWine Not Ruling Out Ohio National Guard As School Drivers

 A school bus in suburban Columbus picks up students in September 2020.
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
A school bus in suburban Columbus picks up students in September 2020. Gov. Mike DeWine says the Ohio National Guard has assisted in various ways throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and having guardsmen drive school buses during the driver shortage is a possibility.

The bus driver shortage is so bad in some Ohio school districts that drivers are being asked to do multiple routes, and districts are drafting other school workers to drive or even considering closing down buildings.

But another potential solution to do a million miles of bus routes each day in Ohio may be a possibility.

Doug Palmer, the transportation expert for the Ohio School Boards Association, estimates Ohio’s more than 600 school districts are between 5% and 12% short the drivers they need, because of retirements, illness and other absences. On a given day, that could be nearly 1,900 drivers.

Gov. Mike DeWine said he’s encouraging schools to reach out and tell the state what they need. And he noted the Ohio National Guard has been deployed in different ways throughout the pandemic.

“They’ve done all kinds of things, from give tests, give shots, work at food banks. So it’s certainly not out of the consideration that that would be a possibility," DeWine said.

Palmer said he hasn't heard whether school districts are asking DeWine to have the Ohio National Guard fill in as bus drivers.

As many as 250 National Guard personnel are being activated to drive school vans in Massachusetts.
Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.