Like a school bus driver at an early morning stop sign, it\u2019s important to look both ways before proceeding regarding the new vaccination mandate. School officials throughout the state endured a tense weekend of waiting for Monday morning, when the deadline arrived for drivers to produce proof of receiving at least one COVID-19 vaccination, or face mandatory testing. There were also murmurs of a possible walkout in protest of the mandate. A walkout would have been shameful, and thankfully never happened. A few districts, including Derby, North Haven, Southbury and Middlebury, reported absent drivers. \u201cI think I can speak on behalf of 500,000 kids and their parents that thankfully the overwhelming majority of school bus drivers showed up and let kids get back to school,\u201d Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday. A grateful governor is hardly a declaration of a crisis averted. Connecticut was already dealing with a notable shortage in drivers that motivated several coaches to hire party buses to get their athletes to games. The Connecticut School Transportation Association acknowledged confusion on deadline day, as some drivers lacked proof of vaccination or a negative test result. Refusal to comply was expected to result in unpaid suspensions. An association survey of drivers held at the end of last week identified 1,558 who were not vaccinated. In a year when it is increasingly challenging to contextualize numbers, this is an imposing one. Take a moment to extrapolate that by how many students they transported in recent weeks. Given that many of the drivers are older, it\u2019s discouraging that so many missed the deadline or scorned the mandate. They\u2019ve had months to get vaccinated, and should have tried to get to the front of the line given that their job description is to keep children safe. Now let\u2019s look in the other direction as we pause at the stop sign. Many drivers came through yet again. This is not easy work. They routinely deal with punishing schedules, unpredictable weather and traffic challenges and the impulsive spirits of our youngest citizens. Bus drivers deserve a medal every day. That\u2019s in typical conditions. USA Today reported this week that drivers in at least 10 states have died of COVID since schools opened in August. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires masks to be worn on school buses, but drivers can\u2019t police their young passengers. And, as temperatures drop, windows will close. For many drivers who take the gig in their retirement years to earn extra cash, it\u2019s just not worth the risk during the pandemic. So it\u2019s hardly surprising that the number of retiring drivers spiked in the last year. The mandate that kicked in Monday should serve as a proverbial stop sign for those 1,558 drivers. Some lessons, in the classroom and outside of it, are taught the hard way. Any doubt about getting vaccinated should be erased when any driver stops to consider the passengers.