NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk Public Schools has rescinded its vaccine and testing mandate, as well as disciplinary actions for district employees.

School board members passed two resolutions in a specially called meeting Friday morning.

One resolution removed employee vaccine requirements, the other ended the district’s mask mandate for students starting on March 1.

The meeting stems from this week’s issue with busing in the district, a source in the district told WAVY.

10 On Your Side learned that 11 NPS bus drivers were put on paid leave Wednesday and Thursday for not getting their COVID vaccine.

“The vaccination rate is only part of the story. I can’t speak to each individual situation. I’m going to leave that to Human Resources,” said school board chair Dr. Adale Martin.

The source said an already existing bus driver shortage was exacerbated by the COVID-19 mandate the school board passed in October, which said all school employees either needed to be fully vaccinated or tested for COVID weekly beginning February 9.

Those who didn’t comply with either the vaccine or testing requirement were first given a warning letter, but the second violation resulted in two days of paid leave, before a recommendation for termination on the third offense.

WAVY’s source says letters went out to bus drivers who weren’t in compliance, giving them a second notice violation and telling them Wednesday and Thursday of this week would be the days they would take paid leave.

The suspension sent a ripple effect across the city as many schools operated without transportation to pick up or drop off students this week, putting pressure on a district already stretched with staffing.

“Employee shortages are global and that is greatly impacting our schools,” Dr. Martin stated.

During Friday’s specially called meeting 10 On Your Side learned 90% of NPS employees are fully vaccinated. The remaining 10% were placed on a two-day suspension that began Wednesday morning for not adhering to district vaccine and testing policies.

“We’ve had to make some very tough decisions that we’ve never had to make before just like every other school district,” Dr. Martin explained.

Jenee Sheffield has a son in fifth grade at James Monroe Elementary School and was forced to leave work to pick up her son who was waiting 40 minutes at the bus stop for a bus that never came.

“If they had a vaccine mandate, everybody knew well ahead of time. This shouldn’t have been a last-minute decision to tell people to go home. They should’ve had a plan in place. I get that they have staffing issues. My job has staffing issues but tell us so we can work things out beforehand,” Sheffield told 10 On Your Side over the phone.

She’s glad to have a reason behind why buses stopped running but says that doesn’t change the fact that some children walked more than a mile to school alone.

“It still doesn’t excuse them for endangering and being negligent with our children because there could have been kids that were standing on the streets waiting for hours for a bus that was never going to show,” Sheffield concluded.

This Saturday NPS will hold a virtual hiring event from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can register here.

Bus drivers are part of the “classified” group of employees. Classified employees make up 35% of the employees who were out of compliance, Norfolk Public Schools data shows.

Thomas Calhoun, the president of Norfolk Federation of Teachers, told WAVY that he’s heard drivers also stopped showing up to work because they’re not being paid to run extra routes. The federation represents some bus drivers.

A bill in the General Assembly that passed with an emergency amendment from Gov. Glenn Youngkin requires all Virginia schools to make masking optional no later than March 1.

When asked about the staffing issues earlier this week, Norfolk Public Schools appeared to just attribute the shortage to ongoing staffing issues and not mandate in addition, saying they’ve been “significantly short-staffed of bus drivers all year.”

Norfolk Public Schools did say in a message on Thursday that they “anticipate that Friday’s transportation routes will run as scheduled.”