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Imagine shoving your kids off to school in an Uber or Lyft. That’s the vision Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has after a mass bus driver resignation due to anger over a vaccine mandate has left school administration and Lightfoot no choice but to enter talks with the rideshare program to shuttle children to school buildings.
“CPS believed there were bus drivers in place,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday at a press conference. “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.
“We’re going to work through these kinks,” she added. “I’m sure you’re going to find individuals for whom this wasn’t a great start. But we’re going to work hard to make sure that we solve those and address those problems.
“This is not on CPS. And I want that to be very clear.”
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, 2,100 students received approximately two days’ notice that their bus routes had been dropped. Private companies who are contracted to provide bus services told the Chicago Public Schools that 73 bus drivers quit over the district’s COVID vaccine mandate.
Even with the 73 drivers quitting, the district already had a shortage of more than 400 drivers. It’s not just the bus situation that’s dogging the school system. Chicago’s ABC-7 is reporting that approximately 30% of Chicago public school students most likely won’t return to classes at all. We’re talking 100,274 students who are “considered to be in need of interventions or outreach in order to facilitate their full engagement for the upcoming school year.”
Let’s repeat that number: 100,274 students who are highly unlikely to re-engage with the school system.
Add in the bus situation and Lori Lightfoot is now banking on Uber and Lyft to get the remaining students to buildings. CPS is reportedly offering families $1,000 payments and $500 in monthly payments for travel reimbursements.
As for the CPS mandate to have bus drivers vaccinated, neither Uber or Lyft has such a mandate. The Sun-Times is reporting “the same CPS requirement that officials said led to the bus driver resignations would likely also apply to the rideshare drivers as third-party contractors.”
Let all of this sink in for a minute.
Once students did make it to school for the first day on Monday, they were greeted by regulations including universal masking and a three-feet social distancing rule.
“Our schools are safe. CPS put in over $100,000,000 in mitigations, including improving ventilation, air purifiers in every classroom, additional cleaning, masks, partitions and so many other efforts to make sure that in this pandemic we are able to bring students back safely into their buildings, and we have,” Lightfoot said at her press conference.
Yeah, now they just have to figure out how to get to school, if they want to attend at all.