CHICAGO (CBS) — The fallout persists from those dozens of school bus drivers who resigned at the start of the school year for the Chicago Public Schools – and new numbers just out show the problem may be bigger than first thought.
As CBS 2’s Chris Tye reported, it was the COVID-19 vaccine mandate by CPS that led to 73 resignations from drivers working for bus companies serving the district. They quit just hours before the school year was to start.READ MORE: City Hall, Chicago FOP File Dueling Lawsuits In Heated Standoff Over Vaccine Mandate
Since then, five more have quit – impacting hundreds more families, and widening a problem already left families scrambling.
At the start of the school year on Aug. 30, some CPS parents were emotional at the toll just one day of an upset routine involving school buses cost their family.
“It’s not good. It’s not good,” Rosanna Rosario, the mother of a student at Frederic Chopin Elementary School, at 2450 W. Rice St. in West Town, said that day. “I need the transportation, please.”
Rosario’s complaints are now being echoed by more families than at the start of school.
It was Friday, Aug. 27 when 73 bus drivers servicing CPS resigned, the district told us that left 2,100 students with no bus access.
On Wednesday, there was an update from the district. A total of 3,300 students are now listed as having no transportation access – a jump of 50 percent.READ MORE: Boy, 15, Shot And Killed In Brainerd
But CPS is laying out some fixes.
Checks of $500 per month for families taking care of transportation themselves are being sent to schools then distributed to families. Monthly checks started going out last Friday.
The district revealing Wednesday that it is also working with cab companies to assist 120 students who will be transported with bus aides in cabs.
And in an effort to keep bus drivers that have gotten vaccinated on the job, the district working on signing bonuses and retention payments for bus and paratransit vendor drivers.
Notably absent from the conversation are deals with ride share companies Lyft and Uber that the city said were in the works last month – and had assisted getting residents to vaccination sites in the depths of the pandemic.
Even before the mass resignations, the district was short drivers.MORE NEWS: Child Tax Credit: October Payments Hitting Parents' Bank Accounts
In total, they are now short 500 bus drivers – a problem they call an “evolving situation.”