MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Wednesday is is School Bus Driver Appreciation Day in Minnesota. However, Minnesota is facing its most significant school bus driver shortage in history.

The Minnesota School Bus Operators Association said there is a 10% to 15% vacancy rate. The lack of drivers means other employees are having to step in to drive buses.

It also means some field trips and after school activities have been cancelled.

The figures were delivered at a press conference this morning in Hopkins, where reporters heard from a young bus driver who’s been driving for just two-and-a-half years.

Detroit Lakes driver Ethan Walz got started through an internship when he was a senior in high school. He said it’s a very fulfilling job.

“Just about a week ago I had a student, a younger student, come up to me and ask if I’d like to attend their 7th birthday party. Although that was flattering, I did decline. I know that when I get those kind of requests I know that I am getting through to the students,” Walz said.

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