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Connecticut schools brace for potential bus driver shortage

NEW HAVEN (AP) — School districts around Connecticut are holding their breath as more than 200 school bus driver could walk off the job in response to a vaccination mandate that goes into effect Monday.

That could worsen an already problematic driver shortage that is affecting school districts in the state and around the country. School superintendents are warning parents that buses may experience significant delays, and are suggesting parents drive their kids to school, the New Haven Register reported.

Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive order going into effect Monday also covers state employees, K-12 teachers and day care workers. A Lamont spokesperson said that state agencies are seeking to qualify new drivers, and the Department of Transportation is considering using some CT Transit and regional-service vehicles to fill gaps.

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

In a letter to acting Commissioner of Education Charlene Russell-Tucker last week, the Connecticut School Transportation Association, which represents school bus drivers, warned of a “catastrophe” on Sept. 27 and asserted that 227 of 1,558 unvaccinated drivers would refuse to follow the mandate.

The state's education department is expediting requests for background checks and training for potential new drivers, the Register reported.

Not all school districts are convinced their transit systems will be disrupted. Transit officials in Danbury and New Haven, as well as in Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington, told the newspaper they don't believe a rumored job action will adversely affect them.



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