MA National Guard Deployed To Drive Kids To School

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) - Governor Charlie Baker activated up to 250 members of the Massachusetts National Guard Monday, amid a school bus driver shortage in several communities. A memo from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security says 90 Guard members will begin training on Tuesday, preparing for service in Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell, and Lynn.

The Guard members will not be driving traditional school buses, but school transport vans known as 7D vehicles. The memo says Guard personnel will complete the vehicle training required for any school transportation worker, and meet all statutory requirements for drivers.

Several communities asked the state for assistance as a staff shortage causes delays and logistical problems in the beginning of the school year. A shortage in Boston prompted bus drivers to ask the start of school be postponed, but Acting Mayor Kim Janey reached a deal with the drivers. Many students have been hours late to school in the days since.

In one of the cities now getting assistance, Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino says the bus vendor was having trouble getting kids to school on time.

"There were some kids that were arriving late. This additional help will be beneficial," said Ambrosino. He says the district's normal bus monitors will be on the school vans as well, assisting the riders.

It's yet to be seen if Guard members will be deployed to communities other than Chelsea, Lowell, Lawrence, and Lynn. The memo also didn't clarify how long the training will take before Guard personnel can officially get behind the wheel.

WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports:

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