MANSFIELD, Ohio (WJW) – The shortage of school bus drivers that began during the pandemic continues to plague schools across Ohio and forced one local district to take drastic measures this week. 

School administrators in Mansfield say there simply were not enough bus drivers to run routes before and after school on Tuesday, so the district canceled classes.

In addition, they shortened the school day at the some of the buildings in the district for the rest of the week, as administrators continue to search for qualified drivers.

“We’ll take as many as will want to come,” Superintendent Stan Jefferson told FOX 8.

Jefferson wears many hats in his job and one of the most important ones right now is recruiter. 

“Number one, we do need drivers… and number two, we have a very, very competitive salary and we have full benefits,” he said.

The superintendent says the short-term solution to the problem is to ask current drivers to run additional routes, which means longer, more stressful work days.

“I commend our drivers for what they have done in order to make sure that we can ensure that our students are able to get a quality education,” he said.

The reality is that school districts across the region and the state are competing with each other for a smaller pool of qualified candidates to run bus routes every school day.

Administrators in Mansfield are hoping a new contract that raises wages for bus drivers to a more competitive level will help solve their transportation crisis.

“We just have to be able to present a product that will be attractive. The one you’d want to come and work for the Mansfield City Schools,” said Superintendent Jefferson. “We want to make sure that our employees are valued and empowered.”