Connecticut schools brace for potential driver shortage

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (AP) – Connecticut school districts are holding their breath as more than 200 school bus drivers may quit their jobs in response to a vaccination mandate that goes into effect Monday.

This could exacerbate an already problematic driver shortage that is plaguing school districts across the state and nationwide. Principals are warning parents that buses can experience significant delays and suggest parents drive their children to school, The New Haven Register reported.

Governor Ned Lamont’s decree that goes into effect Monday also covers state employees, kindergarten to grade 12 teachers and day care centers. A spokesperson for Lamont said state agencies are looking to qualify new drivers and the Transportation Department is considering using some CT Transit and regional service vehicles to fill in the gaps.

State officials last week urged employees to upload their vaccination status, applicable weekly test results or medical and religious exemption requests by midnight Sunday to a third-party app.

In a letter last week to Acting Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker, the Connecticut School Transportation Association, which represents school bus drivers, warned of a “disaster” on September 27 and called claimed that 227 of the 1,558 unvaccinated drivers would refuse to follow the warrant.

The state’s education department is speeding up requests for background checks and training for potential new drivers, the registry reported.

Not all school districts are convinced their transit systems will be disrupted. Transit officials in Danbury and New Haven, as well as Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington, told the newspaper they did not believe rumored labor action would affect them negatively.

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