Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy impacting school bus staffing in Kingston

WATCH: Kingston Faces Bus Driver Shortage

A province-wide shortage of school bus drivers is now being felt here in the Limestone city.

The cause of the shortage is said to be COVID-19 testing and mandatory vaccination policies.

“In the recent two weeks, that’s when we’ve seen more drivers, more monitors leaving the business because of their decision not to be tested or to be vaccinated,” says Gord Taylor, the CEO of Tri-Board Student Transportation Services, which employs approximately 700 people.

Taylor says the shortage is impacting families daily.

Read more:
Coronavirus: Ontario school bus drivers ask for COVID-19 safety protocols

“Daily now, we’re seeing one or maybe two bus cancellations due to a shortage. So the percentage is very low, but still something we’re not accustomed to, and certainly an inconvenience for families when those buses don’t operate,” explained Taylor.

The national school bus company, Stock Transportation, which also operates in Kingston, revealed in a statement that they are also experiencing a school bus driver shortage.

“This current shortage of bus drivers is the most significant we have ever experienced. We are currently short six drivers and have over 125 drivers in place to service our routes in Kingston. The vast majority of our drivers have been vaccinated, and those who have not been vaccinated are required to complete COVID screening tests twice each week,” said Ed Flavin, the communications manager for Stock Transportation.

Read more:
No ‘appreciable’ shortage of school bus drivers in the Kingston, Ont., region

Taylor says the staff at Tri-Board Student Transportation Services have a high vaccination rate, and the decision to make vaccinations and COVID-19 testing mandatory for drivers is the reason they’re seeing problems with retention.

“While we’re really proud of the 90 per cent vaccination rate of our school bus community, among the 10 per cent who are not vaccinated and who are required to test, some of them are reluctant to do that testing, so we’ve lost a narrow margin of drivers among that 10 per cent.”

Taylor says despite this, staffing issues in Kingston are said to be far less severe than in other cities in the province, and the company is working hard to address this issue so students can maintain their dependable transportation daily.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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