BOSTON (WHDH) - Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday activated hundreds of National Guard members to assist with COVID-19 testing at schools across Massachusetts and to offset potential staffing shortages at the Department of Correction.
Baker’s orders activate 200 members of the Guard to support COVID-19 testing in K-12 schools and 250 members to address possible DOC staff shortages.
“We are grateful that the National Guard has stepped up once again, as they have throughout the COVID-19 response, to serve the Commonwealth where needed,” Baker said in a statement. “Today’s activations will ensure that we have additional staffing support for our school testing programs to help kids stay safe and will allow DOC to respond to possible staffing shortages. While we are overall pleased with the progress we are seeing with Commonwealth employees submitting vaccination attestations, we will take whatever steps are necessary to safely run all correctional facilities.”
Guard members will begin training this week and begin administering COVID-19 tests on Oct. 18 as testing programs at 2,200 schools continue to ramp up.
Baker added that other Guard members will immediately begin job-specific training and assume needed roles within in the DOC as preparations begin for the possibility of a reduction in staffing levels due to non-compliance with a mandate that requires all Executive Department employees to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 by this weekend.
The DOC says it’s also prepared to augment correction staff with the return of retired correction officers in addition to Guard personnel.
The Massachusetts National Guard trains regularly with law enforcement, civilian, and other military agencies to provide a broad spectrum of services in support of security, logistics, disaster relief, and other missions.
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