YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM)– Virtual learning days were a necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, they’ve become a safety valve, as the district runs more than a dozen drivers short.

“It’s an issue you know all across the United States it’s not just Pennsylvania or mid-state it’s everywhere,” Mifflin School District Transportation Director Josh Pennepacker said.

The West Shore School District notified parents over the weekend that some schools would have to have some virtual learning days all because of a school bus driver shortage.

“For several years we’ve been having to make modifications on field trips and on extracurricular and athletic events whether that’s dismissal times when they leave when they have to return and how we’ve been solving that,” Superintendent of West Shore School District Todd Stoltz said.

But now, Stoltz says it’s affecting the learning environment, too. For the next two weeks, Red Land, Crossroads, and Cedar Cliffs will alternate virtual learning days forcing some students who rely on school transportation to learn from home.

“I think our goal is to have students be in person and we understand that there are a lot of things that students benefit a lot ways from being in person on any given day hence why we want to limit that as much as possible,” said Stoltz.

Stoltz says West Shore has 13 bus driver openings right now, and it’s not the only district struggling to hire. Pennepacker, says his district is just scraping by.

“We are we’re still in the same spot we have enough and we don’t necessarily have any extra,” said Pennepacker.

Mifflin has more than 5,000 students who rely on transportation, and losing even one driver can be a huge problem.

“There’s an issue we have reached out to parents and guardians of students you know we send the letters out every year you know if you’re willing to help or willing to get your bus driver’s license reach out to a contractor,” said Pennepacker.

“First Student”, the bus company serving the West Shore School district, says it is offering wages starting at 20 dollars an hour, with thousands of dollars in bonuses and paid C-D-L training for anyone looking to become a bus driver visit Bus Driver Application