Thousands of kids across Chicago were set to show up to school for their first day Monday, only to be told they had no way to get there. The Chicago Sun Times reports that a mass driver resignation over covid vaccine mandates left the district and parents to scramble to figure out what to do. Now the district and the Mayor are looking to rideshare to help.
About 2,100 students, including 990 in special education, were given no more than two days’ notice that their bus route no longer existed. District officials said they received word Friday from the private companies with which they contract for bus services that 73 drivers had resigned because they refused to abide by CPS’ vaccine mandate, which requires all employees and contractors to get shots by Oct. 15. The requirement was announced more than two weeks ago.
Apparently, the city was blindsided by the resignations with Mayor Lori Lightfoot saying “CPS believed there were bus drivers in place. It was only Friday that the notification came from bus companies that they had a shortage of drivers. We had an expectation that they were going to fulfill their contract.”
Only 73 drivers are believed to have resigned over vaccine requirements, but the district had recently adjusted routes to account for an existing shortage of drivers. The district now has 770 drivers which is still 500 drivers short.
The city is now looking to Uber and Lyft for help. Mayor Lightfoot says that the city is talking to the two companies, though no agreement has been reached.
Until then, the city is offering transportation help in the form of reimbursements. If families don’t have transportation after two weeks, the city will give them $1,000 upfront and then $500/month for transportation until everything is sorted out. Those who have access to public transit will receive free rides the first day of school and then a reduced fare of 75 cents.