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Local News

Mask Protest: “For me, this was the hill I was prepared to die on”

Hundreds of people rallied at the Christiana Hospital after ChristianaCare announced a new policy requiring all employees to have their first COVID-19 vaccine shot by September 21, 2021-in order to continue their employment with ChristianaCare.

The announcement came on July 29, 2021 from Dr. Ken Silverstein, the Chief Physician executive of ChristianaCare. Silverstein said the decision didn’t come lightly. 

“We did not make the decision about our vaccination policy lightly. The immanent danger posed by the highly transmissible Delta Variant of COVID has tipped the scales in our effort to balance the personal freedom with the right to having a safe workplace.”

“Our decision-making is based on the science and facts about the vaccine.,” Silverstein added.

The protest got underway around 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning in the hopes to push back the mandate, but Silverstein said it’s about safety.

“The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and approved. They are not experimental. Hundreds of millions of doses has been given across the country under the most intense scrutiny in medical history.” “We know more about the safety of these vaccines than we’ve ever known about a vaccine so soon after it has become available.”

By 9:30 a.m. the rally had reached an astounding number but within the hour, more than 300 people had gathered at the campus along Christiana-Stanton Road alongside the hospital’s entrance and began demonstrating. Some who participated in the rally were hospital employees, some of which wore scrubs and others were there to support them.

Tori Malin, a former employee of Christiana Hospital who organized the protest said they are not there protesting as anti-vax. She says she was a Patient Tech with the hospital and explains she put her two weeks notice in earlier last week in response to the mandate, but when she did, She said she was sent home Friday and told she would spend the rest of her two-week notice at home on paid time off. She said when she asked why, a manager told her they didn’t know.

“We are not standing here as an anti-vax. We are standing here against the mandate. No forced compliance to get the vaccine in order to keep your job,” said Malin.

Malin does not believe an employer has the right to demand workers be vaccinated.

“It’s not approved by the FDA, there’s not enough clinical trials or testing data on the side effects and the risks and adverse reactions,” she said. “I made a choice for myself and for my family not to be.”

Silverstein said it is approved and safe

“I kind of would have the power to take that power back from Christiana and leave on my own terms instead of being terminated. For me, this was the hill I was prepared to die on,” she said.

Many demonstrators carried anti-vax signs such as “My body my choice,” “I am informed. I do not consent” and “Say no to vaccine mandates.” Dozens wore T-shirts that said “Essential to Expendable.”

“First of all, it is not a vaccine, a vaccine means that when you get the shot, you do not get the, uh sickness again. If you get a Polio vaccine, you are not going to get polio. This is a shot, like the Flu shot is a shot, you can still get the flu, you can still get covid, and yet we do not know what this drug is going to do to our bodies.” Said Adriana Brown, a demonstrator. “We know nothing about this vaccine, It has not been out long enough, it has not been tested for us to know the safety of it.,”

The rally was noisy and many vehicles passing by showed their support by honking their horns including first responders.

Lee Murphy was at the protest to support the healthcare workers decision to not vaccinate. He said, “This is the United States of America, where we have freedom of choice.  We should all be safe, we should all be free from illness, but in America, we have a choice and I stand for Freedom, I stand for the constitution. These people here are true patriots and true Americans and I’m with them 100%.”

“COVID has shown more clearly than ever how we are all interconnected. Vaccination is the best way to protect each other.”

“The rapid COVID-19 resurgence that we are currently experiencing is the result of the virus spreading among unvaccinated people. This spread increases the likelihood of new mutations.”

ChristianaCare joins nearly 100 health care systems across the country in mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for all employees. The hospital is giving employees six more weeks to comply with the mandate. They have until September 21 to get their first shots.

Meet Roy, Dover Police Department’s latest four-legged facility friend

The Dover Police Department added a four-legged friend to their agency and it’s not your typical K9 officer. 

DOVER (DE) BY DIGITAL STAFF: In a partnership with Canine Companions, the Dover Police Department is proud to announce the arrival of Roy, a Labrador and Golden Retriever Mix, as their new Facility Dog.  The Dover Police Department became interested in a facility dog program after meeting Nikko with the New Castle County (Delaware) Police Department and learning about the success their agency has had with the program. 

Established in 1975, Canine Companions is the largest non-profit provider of service dogs in the United States.  Their presence in Delaware isn’t limited to the New Castle County and Dover Police Departments.  The University of Delaware hosts the largest collegiate puppy raising program in the Canine Companion organization, with anywhere from 5-9 dogs being raised on campus at any time.

Roy, who is named after Roy Gold, a late volunteer with Canine Companions, was matched with PFC Lee Killen during a two-week training program in Long Island, New York after being raised in New Hampshire.  Officer Killen and Roy will be assigned to the Dover Police Department’s Community Policing Unit.  Roy’s primary role with the department will be to serve as an ambassador for the department, attending community outreach events, meetings, school visits, and used to help calm and comfort crime victims, witnesses, and anyone else who may be afraid, uncomfortable, or nervous during a situation.  In the short time that Roy has been with the Dover Police Department, he has already become the most popular officer in the building. 

Photo courtesy of Dover Police Department | Roy, who is named after Roy Gold, a late volunteer with Canine Companions, was matched with PFC Lee Killen during a two-week training program in Long Island, New York after being raised in New Hampshire.

Chief Thomas Johnson made the following statement regarding Roy’s arrival:  “Like every other member of the Dover PD team, Roy is a highly trained professional with a love for service. He has a skill set beyond comfort and therapy, and clearly different from our other working dogs.  This makes him a perfect addition to our Community Policing mission.  He has something to offer everyone, but perhaps his most valuable skill is getting people together in moments filled with positivity.  He will make Dover even stronger than it already is.  Welcome aboard Roy!”

Roy and his handler was at the Dover Police Department’s National Night Out on August 3rd, 2021 at the Dover High School where the public met him at his first large community event.

City of Wilmington launches new online ticket appeal process

Now, it’s easier than ever to appeal a traffic ticket and retain a record of your contacts with the City;

WILMINGTON (DE) BY DIGITAL STAFF: The City of Wilmington today introduced an online ticket appeal process, making it easier than ever for residents to challenge a ticket they receive.

The online system also produces a record of their interactions with the City. An appeal decision will be made within 10 business days of the date the appeal was submitted and will be delivered via email.

Mayor Mike Purzycki said, beginning today, residents, business owners, and visitors can access the ticket appeal section on the City’s website through this link: www.WilmingtonDE.gov/parking.

Mayor Purzycki said in addition to the new online appeal process, the long-established written appeal process is also still available. That process is explained on the back of a ticket. The City’s ticket appeal system is managed by the Office of Constituent Services, which the Mayor noted is separate from the City’s parking enforcement system, thus providing for a more independent review of ticket appeals.

Here are the rules for filing a ticket appeal regardless of whether you use the new online system or the previously established hand-written appeal system:

  • Appeals MUST be submitted within 21 days of the date that the ticket was issued
  • Ticket penalties and fees are automatically suspended when an appeal is filed so no further penalties or fees can accrue until a decision is rendered
  • A decision about your appeal will be sent via email within 10 business days of when the appeal is submitted. Please check spam folders.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding a ticket appeal, please dial 311 to reach Wilmington’s Customer Service Center.

School Bus Report: School Districts facing significant shortage of bus drivers

According to the Delaware Department of Education, Bus driver shortages was a challenge prior to the pandemic. 

NEW CASTLE (DE) BY GEORGE SHEA, PHOTOJOURNALIST: Lehanes Bus Service in New Castle, Delaware is just one of a handful of contracted school bus companies in Delaware that is facing the significant shortage and according to the Delaware Department of Education, their not the only ones.

Like the rest of the nation, Delaware faces a school bus driver shortage. School districts and charter schools have been working hard to recruit new employees, but unfortunately report few new applicants into the field.

According to the Delaware Department of Education, Bus driver shortages was a challenge prior to the pandemic. Since the pandemic, the shortage has worsened because the average age of our school bus drivers puts them into higher risk categories.

“As Delaware’s school districts and charter schools prepare for the 2021-22 school year, local officials report the need for more drivers across the state. This staffing shortage also extends to bus aides, who assist with special transportation requirements for students.,” Said May Alison, a spokeswoman for the Delaware Department of Education. “Because the timeline for getting school bus drivers properly trained and credentialed is governed by federal and state law and regulations, our school districts and charter schools are feeling intense pressure to hire staff immediately so they have staff ready for the start of the school year.”

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Photo by Delaware Department of Education

We spoke to Tyler Brian who is the Education Associate of School transportation at the Delaware Department of Education, and he explains as Delaware emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic, school districts across the state are facing the significant shortage of not only school bus drivers but also aides, for the upcoming school year.

Brian says it’s a national issue and only got worst in Delaware when drivers were allowed to return to their jobs last year but elected not to due to fear of catching COVID-19.

When asked how short of school bus drivers Delaware is looking at for the upcoming school year, Brian says their still collecting that data, but that school districts are facing at least five drivers or more short in each district, However, the operators for Lehanes Bus Service says it’s much worse than that.

Lehanes Bus Service Operators, PJ and Chrisi says before the pandemic, they were already facing bus driver shortages. Chrisi says they had 33 drivers in 2019 prior to the pandemic and now they are left with just 19 for the upcoming school year.

Driver shortages is not just happening in Delaware. It’s a national issue and existed before the coronavirus pandemic. Chrisi says it’s only gotten worse as the pandemic ended. The average age of bus drivers puts the group in the more at-risk category for COVID infection.

Photo, George Shea, For Delaware Newsline | PJ & Chrisi Lehane of Lehanes Bus Service in New Castle is facing significant shortage of school bus drivers as the 2021-22 school year approaches.

“Pre-pandemic we were already short as every other small bus company was. Post pandemic, we were even shorter and put us in a worst situation because of the age bracket of bus drivers..um, their nervous about the virus and getting sick.,” Said Chrisi Lehane.

When asked how it will affect this year’s operations, Chrisi said with the shortage of drivers, all their office staff will have to go out on the road to help get the kids to and from school. PJ says it’s an “all hands on deck”, including people who work in their shop.

“That’s taking people out of the shop, people out of the office, and I mean if there’s a road call meaning if a bus is broken down on the side of the road, it’s kind of hard to get to a road call if everybody’s driving kids at the same time.,” Said PJ Lehane. “So it cause a little bit of a problem because you don’t want kids on the side of the road if there is a break down, but we don’t have many break downs.”

PJ believes driver recruitment is another challenge they face. Due to the states bus driver requirements and training, it’s can take up to two months to become a certified bus driver in Delaware, and PJ says the states training is too much information and takes too long to become a certified school bus driver in Delaware.

“You Know when drivers come in to try to get trained and everything they are bombarded with all this kind of information and it’s hard for them to acknowledge all that and try to gain all that knowledge and then get discouraged.,” Said PJ Lehane. “Thy get discouraged when they come in here and want to get their license or anywhere.  It’s too much information to obtain. It’s way too much information for them but like I said, they get discouraged and then they go find something else.”

Back at the Department of Transportation, Brian said they are looking for ways to solve the problem and create ways to recruit and attract new drivers, but is it too late? 

The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) has been working with our school district/charter school partners to support them with this challenge. DDOE continued to provide driver and aide training throughout the pandemic.

The Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles is also supporting our efforts by scheduling road tests in a timely manner and accepting S endorsements from other states once the school bus drivers meet the Delaware training requirements.

The state is also offering a stipend to those who complete the training and become fully licensed.

To attract more candidates, the state has increased bus driver compensation and created additional financial incentives, such as double tier and triple tier allowances to more accurately compensate drivers that service more than one route. DDOE is developing a small group of stakeholders to explore additional opportunities that may help address or alleviate these staffing shortages, and the state’s Public School Transportation Committee is continuing to evaluate the funding formula and other transportation-related issues

What Delaware Certified School Bus Driver’s are saying at Lehanes

Now we spoke to a couple of bus drivers about their jobs and Roger Lee says he enjoys the job and looks forward to picking up the students everyday.

Wen asked what he liked most about the job, Lee says, “The kids. I really enjoy the kids. I look forward to picking up the students every day.”

Ethel Delong, who is Lehanes longest standing driver with over 35 years of service, say’s “It’s a good job. I mean, your home more than you are at work really. I’ve worked as a cashier and it wasn’t as easy as this.”

Interested? Here’s how you can get started in the process of becoming a Delaware certified school bus driver.

Now if you’re interested in become a Delaware certified school bus driver, the wait to actually begin driving a school bus is on average is about two months but as I mentioned earlier, the Delaware Department of Education is working on ways to improve this process that includes working with the Department of Motor Vehicles to speed up the appointment process.

Those interested in becoming a School Bus Driver/Aide can contact the DDOE, Transportation Office at (302) 857-3390 or via email DOESchool.Transportation@doe.k12.de.us. or contact a local school bus contractor in your area.


[su_tab title=”Qualifications a School Bus Driver”]
o Must be 18 years or older
o Obtain a CDL
o Individual will have to study the CDL manual and pass knowledge test at DMV to receive permit
o Districts/Employers will provide trainers to teach the skills needed to past the road test at DMV
o Complete a Delaware School Bus Driver Background Check
o Complete Child Protection Registry
o Pre-Employment Drug Testing
o Delaware School Bus Driver Physical (w/tb screening)
o Complete Behind the Wheel Training
o Attend Delaware School Bus Driver Training School 2-day class (Offered in each county monthly)

[su_tab title=”Disqualifying Factors”]
o Not have more than five (5) points (full point value) on the applicant’s three (3) year driving record. NOTE: Recalculated points and the Defensive Driving Course three (3) point credits do not apply to (S) endorsement holders in meeting this requirement.

o Not have had the applicant’s license suspended, revoked or disqualified in this State or any other jurisdiction for moving violations in the last five (5) years. This five (5) year period will begin from the date the suspension, revocation or disqualification has been cleared. Certified driving records from other jurisdictions may be requested from these applicants for the DMV to verify compliance with this section.

o Never been convicted of any crime under the laws of this State or any other jurisdiction as specified in 21 Del.C. §2708(b)(7).

[su_tab title=”Qualifications for a School Bus Aide”]
o Must be 18 years or older
o Attend Delaware School Bus Driver/Aide Training (Offered in each county monthly)
o Complete a Public School Employee background check
o Complete Child Protection Registry
o Pre-Employment Drug Testing
o School Bus Aide Physical (w/TB screening)


ChristianaCare to require all employees to be vaccinated by September 21st

ChristianaCare says the policy, defines all caregivers as: ChristianaCare employees (regardless of the type of work they do), Medical-Dental Staff, residents, students, contracted employees, temporary labor, volunteers and vendors.

NEWARK (DE) BY DIGITAL STAFF: ChristianaCare today announced that it will join a growing number of health care systems and hospitals across the nation that are requiring all caregivers to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

All caregivers must receive their first dose of a two-dose vaccine or their single dose of Johnson & Johnson by Tuesday, September 21, 2021.

The decision comes two days after the CDC revised it’s mask guideline after data has shown that COVID-19 has increased at an alarming rate across the country for more than four weeks. 

Although fully vaccinated people represent a very small amount of transmission, Federal health officials believe some vaccinated people could be carrying higher levels of the virus than previously understood, and potentially transmit the virus to others.

The CDC made the decision late Tuesday and recommended that fully vaccinated people begin wearing masks indoors again in places with high Covid-19 transmission rates.

ChristianaCare says the policy, defines all caregivers as: ChristianaCare employees (regardless of the type of work they do), Medical-Dental Staff, residents, students, contracted employees, temporary labor, volunteers and vendors.

“Over the past eight months, we have served our community by administering thousands of vaccines to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. President Joe Biden was among those who rolled up their sleeves at ChristianaCare to protect themselves and others,” said Janice E. Nevin, M.D., President and CEO.

“Since then, approximately 10,000 of our caregivers have opted for the vaccinations, which have been proven safe and effective at providing lasting immunity to COVID-19 and reducing severe illness.

“While we have not required vaccinations to-date, the highly transmissible delta variant and the surge in COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated people across the country—including in our area—have prompted additional considerations. The science is clear: Health care workers must be vaccinated in order to protect the health and safety of our patients, our caregivers and our community. We must take this step as expert, caring partners in the health of our neighbors.”

May be an image of 1 person, outerwear and text that says 'LET'S KEEP IT UP. LET'S ALL #MASKUP.'

The decision comes as a growing number of professional organizations urge all health care facilities to require workers to get vaccinated—including the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Hospital Association, America’s Essential Hospitals, the American College of Surgeons and many others.

“We believe we have reached a tipping point at which the urgent need for all caregivers to be vaccinated is clear,” said Chief People Officer Neil Jasani, M.D., MBA, FACEP. “While we continue to provide exceptional care for people with COVID-19, the fact remains that this is a very dangerous virus, especially the delta variant, which is causing increasing hospitalizations and mortality among younger and healthier people. The best way to protect people and to save lives is through vaccination.”

Vaccine exemptions will only be allowed for specific medical conditions and religious beliefs.

The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday became the first major federal agency to require health care workers to get COVID-19 vaccines.

At the VA, vaccines will be now mandatory for specified health care personnel – including physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants and others who work in departmental facilities or provide direct care to veterans, said VA Secretary Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough.

“It’s the best way to keep veterans safe, especially as the delta variant spreads across the country,” McDonough said in a statement. “Whenever a veteran or VA employee sets foot in a VA facility, they deserve to know that we have done everything in our power to protect them from COVID-19.

The director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to President Biden told members of the media Sunday that the United States is in an “unnecessary predicament” of soaring COVID-19 cases fueled by unvaccinated Americans and the virulent delta variant.”

“It’s a dynamic situation. It’s a work in progress, it evolves like in so many other areas of the pandemic,” Fauci said in an interview with CNN. “You’ve got to look at the data.”

In an interview with the Washington Post, Fauci told reporters, “The situation has clearly changed” since May 13.”

“Vaccinated people are transmitting it, and the extent is unclear, but there’s no doubt they’re transmitting it,” Fauci said. “People who are vaccinated, even when they’re asymptomatic, can transmit the virus, which is the scientific foundation of why this recommendation is being made.”

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