Shelton bus company nears compliance with COVID vaccine mandate

Photo of Brian Gioiele
City of Shelton school buses parked in Shelton, Conn. June 7, 2018.

City of Shelton school buses parked in Shelton, Conn. June 7, 2018.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — The city is covering costs of weekly COVID testing for drivers and monitors of the city-owned bus company.

Overall, Shelton Student Transportation Service is nearing complete compliance with Gov. Ned Lamont’s order that all educators and school staff — including bus drivers and monitors — get vaccinated against COVID. Those who are not vaccinated would need to get COVID tested on a weekly basis.

Mayor Mark Lauretti last month said he is not enforcing Lamont’s order, adding that in his city, school bus drivers are municipal employees and he hasn’t required them to either get vaccinated or take weekly COVID tests.

“The city of Shelton owns our buses,” Lauretti said, adding that Lamont’s mandate could make it even tougher for bus companies to retain drivers.

“Why is it OK for people to sit at MetLife stadium and watch a football game last Sunday without masks; to fill up the aisles at Big Y?” Lauretti said. “Why is it necessary, a year and a half into the pandemic, for our bus drivers to wear masks and have vaccinations? I am not telling them to do it.”

Lauretti said the city will pay for any one of the drivers or monitors seeking weekly tests. When asked whether drivers are operating buses while not in compliance with Lamont’s order, Lauretti said, “Yes, there are some, not many.”

SSTS Director Ken Nappi said masks and face shields have been issued to all drivers and monitors. Nappi said drivers and monitors are wearing masks at all times.

Nappi said all drivers are also provided packets with face masks, which they issue to any child who comes onto the bus without a facemask.

Lauretti said no one from the state has contacted him about his stance.

“I just find it interesting that we selectively pick and choose when we want to follow the science,” Lauretti said. “Why was it OK for bus drivers to drive the last year and a half without a vaccine and now we need one?”