US Massachusetts governor activates National Guard to help with school transportation
The Massachusetts National Guard will be driving kids to school amid national bus driver shortage
Gov. Charlie Baker said 250 Guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans, with training set to begin Tuesday.The governor of Massachusetts on Monday activated the state’s National Guard to help with busing students to school, a growing issue in states across the country.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) on Monday activated 250 National Guard personnel to provide support for school transportation due to staffing shortages in local communities.
According to Baker's office, the Guard members will act as drivers for certain districts experiencing staffing shortages. They will drive 7D vehicles - for school pupil transport - which require two hours of training and for the driver to meet certain criteria to be certified to operate.
"As with any school transportation worker, all activated Guard personnel will complete vehicle training to ensure the safety of children and families. Drivers will meet all statutory requirements for 7D drivers. Throughout the mission, the Guard will comply with all health and safety measures," thefrom his office read.
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Troops have been brought in to battle a "severe" and "desperate" bus driver shortage to prevent transportation chaos at the start of another school year.A statement issued by Governor Charlie Baker's office, which Newsweek has contacted for comment, added "up to 250 personnel" could be made available and the areas of "Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell, and Lynn" will be prioritized. The state also stressed the assignment will not interfere with the Guard's ability to respond to and assist in emergencies.
Beginning on Tuesday, 90 Guard members will prepare to begin service in the Massachusetts cities of Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell, and Lynn.
It is unclear how long the Guard members will be assisting communities as school bus drivers.
"Once it became pretty clear that there were going to be some communities shorthanded - it wasn't going to be a vehicle issue, it was going to be people with CDLs - we started talking to the Guard," Baker said on Monday,.
"There are a bunch of communities who have said they're interested in this and we're glad to be able to help because it's important," he added.
The U.S. is currently facing an immense labor shortage, with school districts across the country having to start the academic year without enough bus drivers to transport students to school on time.
A school district in Delaware resorted toto drive their children to school to unburden its school bus system.
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In recent weeks, several states have deployed hundreds of National Guard service members to help overwhelmed and understaffed hospitals dealing with COVID-19 surges. For about two weeks, Brashear, a member of the Kentucky Army National Guard, has been leading a team of 30 National Guard members at The Medical Center at Bowling Green, doing "everything little thing" they can to help give the hospital staff a much-needed break.