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Chicago Public Schools To Pay Families To Get Children To School If Buses Aren't Available Due To Driver Shortage

CHICAGO (CBS) -- There are not enough school bus drivers, so the Chicago Public Schools are going to pay some parents to get their kids to school themselves. In a letter to families, CPS said a small number of students will not be able to take the bus. A significant number of bus drivers have quit following a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

According to the distrct, plans were in place to have some students picked up 15 to 30 minutes earlier in order provide transportation for all students with fewer drivers. However, during the week of Aug. 23, 10% of drivers quit. On Friday alone, 73 drivers resigned. The system now has a total of about 770 drivers -- with a shortage of about 500.

This means CPS is unable to provide transportation for 2,100 students.

CPS released a statement reading, in part:

"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. While we understand it will not completely alleviate the predicament for families, we are offering transportation stipends of $1,000 for the first 2 weeks, and $500 the following months for the 2,100 students without transportation, as well as students who are impacted by longer route times. We are committed to ongoing engagement and dialogue with families and will be working diligently with them to solve this problem moving forward."

Parents whose children will not be able to take the bus will be notified before the first day of school on Monday, the letter said.

If parents are notified of a change in their child's bus schedule and the change does not work for the family, parents can receive $1,000 upfront and $500 a month to arrange alternative transportation.

The children's schools will provide the reimbursement.

As of Saturday, about 12,400 students did have a bus route. Of those 5,500 would be affected by extended route times and would receive stipends.

For information, CPS says parents should call (773) 553-2860, or call their child's school.

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