While classes are set to resume Monday for the more than 300,000 students who attend Chicago Public Schools, some children and families are already facing a predicament before the academic year begins - a lack of transportation.
Due to "a rush of" bus driver resignations within the past week, CPS says it's not able to accommodate transportation for approximately 2,100 students during the beginning of the school year.
"“We are saddened and extremely frustrated by this situation, and we express our sincerest apologies to the impacted families for the inconvenience this has caused — especially with such short notice," the district said in a statement.
In turn, CPS is offering affected families stipends of $1,000 for the first two weeks and $500 the following months, but notes the payments "will not completely alleviate the predicament."
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The shortage isn't unique to Chicago, but part of a problem being felt by suburban school districts and nationwide. Some districts are even being forced to tier bus schedules, with buses making multiple rounds in just one morning to prevent overcrowding.
In regard to CPS, approximately 10% of drivers resigned during the week of Aug. 23, with 73 submitting their resignations alone on Friday, Aug. 27. The sharp increase in resignations was likely driven by the district's vaccinations requirements, the school district said.
Under CPS policy, all faculty and staff members must receive the COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 15.
Those who have not already reported to the district that they are fully vaccinated must be tested once a week at a minimum until the October deadline or until proof of vaccination is submitted. Staff with a documented exemption will need to be tested for the remainder of the year.