School districts in Connecticut on Monday reported few disruptions in getting students aboard buses, despite worries that more than 200 school bus drivers might refuse to show up rather than comply with Gov. Ned Lawton's vaccination mandate.
In a statement, according to Connecticut NBC, Jon Hipsher of the Connecticut School Transportation Association (COSTA) praised "school bus drivers and managers for promptly following the Governor's mandate for COVID vaccinations and testing, while at the same time, doing what needed to be done to get Connecticut's children safely to school."
The latest COSTA statement struck a markedly different tone than the email sent last week to Charlene Russell-Tucker, commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Education. In that message, the association's Jean Cronin warned that the vaccine mandate created a government-driven crisis and that a "major catastrophe" loomed ahead. In August, Lamont set Sept. 27 as the deadline for state employees, childcare workers, and school staff to get vaccinated. Those who refuse vaccination must undergo weekly COVID-19 tests.
Lamont told the network that he heard of few instances where backup drivers were necessary.
"I think I can speak on behalf of 500,000 kids and their parents, thankfully the overwhelming majority of the school bus drivers showed up" so students could resume in-person learning, Lamont said.
Eric Scoville, spokesperson for Connecticut's education department, confirmed the governor's assessment.
"The agency has only received two formal requests for assistance from Derby and North Haven for a total of four drivers," Scoville told School Bus Fleet. "It looks like most districts are handling this issue on their own even if there are shortages. We continue to expedite new drivers through the pipeline and are meeting daily with an internal multi-agency School Bus Shortage Task Force to triage any requests for assistance."
The state continues to process declarations from drivers that indicate vaccine status and when they might get a shot or a test. That may take a couple of days, the governor said.