Massachusetts National Guard personnel take on job of school bus drivers

BUS
Gov. Charlie Baker (R-Mass) activated the National Guard on Monday to help transport students to school due to a widespread school bus driver shortage that is hampering the return to in-person instruction amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo credit Karen Ducey/Getty Images

Members of the Massachusetts National Guard have a new mission – getting students to school.

Gov. Charlie Baker (R-Mass) activated the National Guard on Monday to help transport students to school due to a widespread school bus driver shortage that is hampering the return to in-person instruction amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a tweet, Baker wrote that “the safe and reliable to school each day is critical to our children’s safety and education.”

Up to 250 National Guard personnel will be made available to transport students to school under Baker’s order. Ninety of those service members will begin training Tuesday to drive what is known as 7D school transport vans in districts including Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell, and Lynn.

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According to a statement from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, activated Guard personnel will complete the training to ensure the safety of students and families, adding that “drivers will meet all statutory requirements for 7D drivers.”

The mission will not interfere with the Guard’s ability to respond to and assist with emergencies in the Commonwealth, the statement continued.

“The Guard has a proven track record of success supporting civilian authorities,” the statement reads. “Their frequent side-by-side training with and local first responders makes them well-suited for a variety of missions.”

7D vehicles are small student transport vans that can carry a maximum number of 11 people, including the driver.

Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com.

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