Schools in North Georgia and Tennessee report bus driver shortages

Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / A school bus drives down Nashville Street on Wednesday, September 8, 2021 in Ringgold, Ga.

School districts nationwide have reported a school bus driver shortage in recent weeks as the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant continues to drive a back-to-school surge of positive cases and quarantines.

Now, districts in Northwest Georgia and Southeast Tennessee say they are facing similar struggles as they work to get students to and from school.

In Whitfield County Schools in Georgia, there are 117 bus routes. Of those, 22 are without a regular driver and have been all year. Another 10 to 12 routes are expected to be open on a daily basis because of drivers calling in sick or being otherwise unavailable.

Some of these absences are normal and expected at the start of a new school year, district spokesperson Kristina Horsley said, but some of them are a result of COVID-19.

"There