Thousands of hardworking school bus drivers safely transport more than 760,000 students to and from school each day across the state.

To recognize this important profession, Gov. Tim Walz has proclaimed Feb. 26, as School Bus Driver Appreciation Day in the state of Minnesota.

School districts across Minnesota will celebrate the fourth annual School Bus Driver Appreciation Day in special ways, such as by passing out student-made thank you cards and providing food and beverages to bus drivers. The I-35W bridge in Minneapolis will also be lit yellow in recognition of School Bus Driver Appreciation Day on the evening of Feb. 26.

The Minnesota School Bus Operators Association (MSBOA) and the Minnesota Association of Pupil Transportation (MAPT) teamed up to create School Bus Driver Appreciation Day in Minnesota to encourage school leaders, parents and students to celebrate the often-overlooked profession.

“School bus drivers can be powerful mentors, as they often bookend a student’s school day and make a positive influence on that child’s educational experience,” said MSBOA President Garrett Regan. “School bus driving is an important but often unacknowledged profession, and we are thankful that Governor Walz has declared February 26 as School Bus Driver Appreciation Day in Minnesota to help give bus drivers the recognition they deserve.”

Minnesota is facing its most significant school bus driver shortage in history. At a press conference for this year’s School Bus Driver Appreciation Day that will be held in Golden Valley on Feb. 26, speakers will bring attention to the crisis by sharing ways that school districts are recruiting and retaining school bus drivers, as well as the many benefits of the profession. A lack of school bus drivers often requires other district employees — such as mechanics or administrators — to be pulled out of those roles to drive buses, and can also result in fewer or canceled field trips and afterschool activities.

“Nearly every school district in the state is facing a bus driver shortage and is seeking professionals who are driven to serve in these fulfilling, flexible jobs,” said MAPT President John Thomas. “We hope that Minnesotans help us recognize school bus drivers in their communities on February 26, and that more people consider this rewarding and in-demand career.”

Additional reasons to celebrate School Bus Driver Appreciation Day include the impact school buses have on student safety and the environment. Thanks to rigorous safety standards for vehicles and drivers, students are approximately 70 times more likely to get to school safely if they take the school bus instead of traveling by car. The school bus driving industry is the largest form of mass transit in Minnesota, and it has reduced its environmental impact by using alternative fuels and retrofitting diesel engines.

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