APS in need of bus drivers

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As school districts try and figure out how to return to the classroom — Albuquerque Public Schools, one of the biggest school districts in the country, is working to bring back some of their essential workers.

"We have a hard time employing bus drivers when we didn’t have the virus," said Dr. Gabriella Blakey, the APS interim chief operations manager.

The scramble is on to make sure drivers are available when the district decides to return to in-person learning.

"Many of our bus drivers are older drivers, some have underlying conditions, I mean, when we talk about vaccines, that’s another one of the areas of employees that we are advocating for getting vaccines," Blakey said.

APS also uses contractors to fill transportation needs and said they need time to bring back their employees. However, it’s a balancing act, because there are so many unknowns.

"We don’t want to ask our contractors to bring employees back on and then be in a situation where we don’t have the children going to school and then we have to make sure that we still keep up our end of paying the contractor without any riders on the bus," Blakey said.

APS is hiring at a time when New Mexico has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.