The governor of Massachusetts has activated the state’s National Guard to help settle students at the school as districts across the country struggle to hire enough drivers.
BOSTON — The governor of Massachusetts activated the state’s National Guard on Monday to help students get to school as districts across the country struggle to hire enough drivers.
Republican Governor Charlie Baker said 250 Guard personnel would be available to work as drivers of school transportation vans.
They will begin training Tuesday, with some 90 of them initially deployed to four diverse cities north of Boston that have dealt with driver shortages—Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell and Lynn.
It is unclear how long the guard will help with busing or how many districts it plans to support. But Baker insisted that busing duty would not interfere with the guard’s ability to respond to other major state emergencies.
“The Guard has a proven track record of success in supporting civilian officers,” the governor said in a statement. “His frequent side-by-side training with state and local first responders makes him suitable for a wide variety of missions.”
Schools across the US are offering hiring bonuses, providing the training needed to obtain professional driving licenses and raising hourly wages to attract more drivers this year.
Bus driver shortages have complicated a school year already beset by the highly contagious Delta version of COVID-19, contentious disagreements over masking requirements, and the challenge of catching up on educational grounds as the pandemic raged on last year.
Last Thursday, the first day of school in Boston, school officials reported that more than 1,200 buses were delayed and more than 40% did not arrive at school on time for the opening bell.
Still, officials said, it was the district’s best performance in some six years to send students to school on time for the first day of school.