FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WVNS)–West Virginia schools are struggling to find and retain qualified bus drivers.

While the shortage is not new for the state, it became worse following the COVID pandemic. The hiring pool is more limited and prerequisites for the job also pose a challenge.

Most positions require a commercial driver’s license, in-depth training and particular hours.

Gary Hough, Superintendent of Fayette County Schools, said this may cause barriers but is meant to ensure student safety and quality of the employee. 

“We’ve got a great program,” said Hough. “It really protects our students and does a really good job minimizing accidents and making sure we have the very best on the road.” 

The state also launched more training programs to help recruit new drivers.

Hough said the Bus Operator Training program covers all training costs and exam fees for the employee. The program also simplifies the process and teaches child management and on-the-road training.

Greg Betkijian, Raleigh County Schools Director of Transportation, said they are working to have a bigger class of bus drivers this summer to prepare for the Fall school year.

“People here are doing a great job finding viable candidates,” said Betkijian. “We are always recruiting and always looking for good people to work with our students.”

Betkijian said anyone looking to apply can call or visit the Raleigh County School Transportation office. 

Fayette County is also hosting a job fair next week where open applications will be available.