Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday activated the National Guard to help local communities transport students to school amid a nationwide bus driver shortage.
Guard personnel will be made available to serve as drivers of school transport vans to address staffing shortages in certain districts as the 2021-2022 academic year gets underway, according to the governor.
“The safe and reliable transportation to school each day is critical to our children’s safety and education,” Baker said.
Baker’s order will make up to 250 Guard members available to help with the transportation efforts. Beginning with training on Tuesday, 90 Guard members will prepare for service in Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell, and Lynn.
“We are thankful for Governor Baker’s partnership, and with the governor’s support, we anticipate 15 National Guardsmen sent to Lowell to transport students,” Lowell Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joel Boyd said in a statement.
Chelsea Superintendent of Schools Dr. Almi G. Abeyta said the Guard’s help will alleviate the need for buses to run double rounds.
Boston is not among the communities that will be taking help from the Guard.
The Guard personnel will be driving 7D vehicles, which are smaller, 10-passenger student transport vans.
Baker noted that all activated Guard members will undergo thorough vetting and they will be required to complete a vehicle training course to ensure the safety of children and families.
Districts across the nation have been dealing with higher than normal bus driver shortages due to the pandemic.
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