Shortage of bus drivers hurts schooling

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TORRANCE, Calif. — A school in Torrance has lost nearly half of its students since the pandemic began.

Just when they thought they had found a way through, an additional problem arose.


What do you want to know

  • The Southern California Regional Occupational Center is a technical school for adults and high school students
  • This semester, the school cannot offer bus transportation due to a lack of drivers
  • SoCal ROC registrations have plummeted since the start of the pandemic
  • Some students are willing to endure rush hour traffic after taking their regular high school classes to attend

Long after the last bell has rung, El Segundo High School senior Alencia Calderon hits the freeway and endures rush hour traffic to get to his favorite class.

“There is nothing like it in my high school. In fact, it’s more practical than anything in my school. That’s why I love him so much, Calderon said.

The long drive to the Southern California Regional Vocational Center is part of the reason Calderon and his carpooler, Amanda Nguyen, also a senior at El Segundo High School, are sometimes the last to sit in the medical assistance class. of the evening.

Calderon wants to become a nurse and this course she is taking launches her on this path.

This isn’t his first lesson at technical school, but rather his first in a long time. The pandemic forced her to take a hiatus from SoCal ROC. This, however, did not dampen his passion.

“It actually makes me want to do it more that people need nurses, especially right now because of COVID. They’re at an all-time high right now,” Calderon said.

When Calderon returned to SoCal ROC, there was one huge difference: No buses at all that semester due to a lack of drivers.

Therefore, it is up to Calderon and Nguyen – along with countless other students – to move from school to school.

“A bit every day, we have to find out who is taking us. It’s not really like a fixed schedule, so we just have to understand like day by day,” Nguyen said.

The school caters to both adults and high school students. Without reliable transportation, enrollment plummeted, especially among high school students.

“These high school students shouldn’t have to go to such lengths to get here and have a program that’s there for them,” said SoCal ROC Superintendent Dr. Atlas Helaire.

This is a school that avoided closure when remote learning was the only option. Now the problem of attracting and keeping students is back.

Calderon teacher Melissa Moore squealed this semester with just enough students to stay full-time.

“It’s the pedal to the metal at the moment. It’s the nose to the grind, so to speak, and that’s OK. Again, I feel very lucky to have this opportunity to work and get benefits,” Moore said.

Calderon literally goes the extra mile, with college on the horizon.

“I love it. It’s like I dreamed of becoming a nurse, so it really drives me forward,” Calderon said.

California Assembly Bill 99 provided $10 million for the school, spread over several years. This has helped them build up a nice savings, saving them time to solve this problem.

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