DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — School districts across the nation face a growing problem that appears to have no end in sight.

A severe shortage of school bus drivers has forced some school districts and parents to make some difficult choices.  

News 19 consistently reports on how staffing shortages affects Alabama schools, but the bus driver shortage has gotten so bad that some states have gone as far as calling in the National Guard for help. Many schools in the state have been forced to return to remote learning because of the massive shortages.

School districts in Alabama are sending out an SOS. At one point, driving a school bus was seen as an attractive job for retirees hoping for a second career choice. But the COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated the difficulty in hiring.

A new study suggests that folks may be scared off from having to deal with behavioral issues with children since schools returned to in-person learning.

Decatur City Schools are currently looking to hire several drivers and driver aides to fill some holes but does not want communicating with children to be a deterrent in the hiring process.  

“Sometimes folks aren’t quite sure and ask, ‘can I work with children or am I able to work with students?’ We get them down here and talk to them to understand that a lot of the time it is easier than they think,” said Jamie Penley, transportation assistant for Decatur City Schools. “Also working with other people and just that community sense. I think when they get here, they know that it is truly a family, and we work them through it.”

The school system will be hosting a job fair on Tuesday, April 19 in hopes of filling some driver holes. Anyone interested in applying can do so on the Decatur City Schools website.