As school districts continue to grapple with the nationwide school bus driver shortage, several state officials are working to come up with solutions, including calling on the help of National Guard troops.
As School Bus Fleet previously reported, on Monday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker summoned 250 members of the state’s National Guard to help with busing students to school. The Guard troops will be available to drive school transport vans, known as 7D vehicles, for several cities, and as with any school transportation personnel, the troops will be required to complete vehicle training before getting behind the wheel.
Following Baker’s announcement, New York Assemblyman Mike Lawler sent a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul and the commissioners of the New York Department of Education, Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Department of Labor on Tuesday regarding the handling of the state's school bus driver shortage.
In the letter, Lawler detailed the need for activating the National Guard to help drive buses. He also urged officials to provide a list of those on unemployment with appropriate licenses to drive school buses to school districts and school bus companies, in addition to allowing third-party testing to expedite the licensing process for new drivers.
“I raised these concerns earlier in the summer, and it went unheeded — now we are facing an urgent crisis in districts throughout the state,” Lawler said in a Facebook post. We need to act immediately.”
Meanwhile, in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine addressed on Wednesday the nation's driver shortage and how deploying the National Guard should be considered as an option, according to WSYX.
"We have deployed the National Guard throughout this pandemic," DeWine told the news source. "They've done all kinds of things, give tests, give shots, work in food banks, so it's certainly not out of consideration."
Also, on Wednesday, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster held a cabinet meeting with other state department heads, in which they discussed deploying Guard troops to drive school buses. The state's National Guard Major General Van McCarty told those in attendance that troops are looking to help fulfill that need for South Carolina schools.
“The biggest challenge that we see in that regard though is working a request in the Department of Education for school bus drivers and we’re working with them now to see how we can support that need,” McCarty said during the meeting.
Currently, there are no pending requests to deploy troops for South Carolina schools.