NYC students face possible return to remote learning due to bus driver strike

News & Politics

The results of millions of schoolchildren being forced into remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic were disastrous from both a learning and a health standpoint for kids. While the country appears to be finally back to in-person learning everywhere — often over the objections of recalcitrant teachers unions — some students in New York City may soon be subjected to remote learning again for a different reason: a looming school bus driver strike.

In New York City, bus drivers are not employed directly by the city but are instead contracted with the city through TWU Local 1181, and that union has declared that it is ready to strike. Union president Thomas Fret told WCBS-TV that “Drivers, attendants and shop employees simply cannot make ends meet.” Union leaders declared that if the city could not reach a new contract on their terms by the start of school on September 7th, then workers would go on strike.

According to NYC schools chancellor David C. Banks, this would leave between 85,000 and 150,000 students without a way to get to school. The city’s only solution for those students? Remote learning.

New York City parents are understandably not pleased with that response. “It’s not fair to the kids who are disabled, who are disadvantaged in the first place to have to deal with this,” parent Amanda Neville told WCBS.

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Nevertheless, Neville said she supported the striking drivers. “I support the workers in this case. They’re not getting what they deserve. It’s my opinion that they should be city employees.”

City Public Schools said they are monitoring the situation and preparing to attempt to help parents by providing things like emergency Metrocards, but many parents are not enthusiastic about those solutions, either. One parent brought up a rather obvious concern to WCBS: “She’s not taking the train by herself to school, not now at 12 years old.”

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