Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker summoned 250 members of the National Guard on Monday to help with busing students to school, as the state deals with an ongoing bus driver shortage.
The Guard troops will be available to drive school transport vans, known as 7D vehicles, in Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell, and Lynn, according to a news release from Baker's office. As with any school transportation personnel, the troops will be required to complete vehicle training before getting behind the wheel.
Lowell Public Schools announced on Monday that 15 Guard members will be transporting students using the district's 10-passenger vans.
Meanwhile, Chelsea Public Schools announced that 15 troops will be driving school vans serviced by its local pupil transportation provider North Reading Transportation.
In a letter to parents, posted on the district’s website, Chelsea Public Schools Superintendent Almi G. Abeyta said that all troops will be in uniform while driving the vans but will not be armed. She also said that the troops will be required to meet state and local health and safety measures and will be accompanied by bus monitors during their routes.
As more troops continue to be deployed across the state, Baker said that the troops mission to provide school transportation will not interfere with their ability to respond to and assist in emergencies within the Commonwealth. Some members of the National Guard reportedly had already held commercial driver’s licenses for professional or Guard-related reasons.