Chicago Public Schools in talks with Uber, Lyft after bus drivers quit over vaccine mandate
A mass resignation of bus drivers refusing to abide by a COVID-19 vaccination mandate has led to a scramble for Chicago schools.
A mass resignation of Chicago Public Schools bus drivers refusing to abide by a coronavirus vaccination mandate led to a citywide scramble to find transportation for thousands of students on Monday as school started.
According to The Chicago Sun-Times, about 2,100 students — including 990 kids in special education — were given barely two days’ notice that their bus route would not be available for the first day of school. Their parents, needless to say, were not pleased.
Chiacgo Mayor Lori Lightfoot is currently in talks with various rideshare companies, including Uber and Lyft, to transport students to school. She said she had her staff reach out to the two companies to “see what they can do to provide resources to help our families who need alternative means of transportation to get the kids to school and get them there safely.”
She notably called this “an all-hands-on-deck moment.”
However, reporters were quick to point out that the companies have policies against anyone under the age of 18 from riding without an adult. Further, the school district requires specific background checks on employees, contractors and volunteers, which the rideshare drivers would have to undergo.
Also, neither Lyft nor Uber has made COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for their drivers.
Lightfoot admitted that several of the issues raised by reporters were “a little ahead” of her office’s planning of the crisis, “but as soon as we know what the plan is going to be, we’ll definitely let you know.”
Chicago Public Schools mandated coronavirus vaccines for all employees and contractors, and more than 73 drivers resigned after refusing to abide by the mandate.
At a news conference, Lightfoot noted the drivers who resigned were contractors.
“CPS believed there were bus drivers in place,” she said. “It was only Friday that the notification came from those third parties that they had a shortage of drivers. That is not CPS’ responsibility. We have a contract with those companies. We had an expectation that they were going to fulfill their contract.”
Even before the 73 contractors quit with little notice, however, the school district was still short by nearly 500 drivers than what’s needed to man its 14,500 routes.
The mayor acknowledged there would be families for whom the situation would be difficult. “But we’re going to work hard,” she said, “to make sure that we solve those and address those problems.”
According to the report, Chicago Public Schools are offering families $1,000 upfront and $500 monthly for a travel reimbursement until the problems are fixed.