Governor Charlie Baker activated the Massachusetts National Guard in response to requests from local communities for assistance with school transportation as the 2021-2022 school year gets underway in the Commonwealth. The Governor’s order makes up to 250 personnel available. Beginning with training on Tuesday, 90 Guard members will prepare for service in Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell, and Lynn.
These Guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans known as 7D vehicles to address staffing shortages in certain districts.
As with any school transportation worker, all activated Guard personnel will complete vehicle training to ensure the safety of children and families. Drivers will meet all statutory requirements for 7D drivers. Throughout the mission, the Guard will comply with all health and safety measures.
The mission will not interfere with the Massachusetts National Guard’s ability to respond to and assist in emergencies within the Commonwealth.
The Massachusetts National Guard trains regularly with military, law enforcement, and civilian agencies to provide a broad spectrum of services in support of security, logistics, disaster relief, and other missions. The Guard has a proven track record of success supporting civilian authorities. Their frequent side-by-side training with state and local first responders makes them well-suited for a variety of missions.
Long-time Chelsea School Committee Rosemarie Carlisle said she was aware of the shortage of bus drivers and pleased that the National Guard would be coming to Chelsea to assist in the transportation of students.
“We didn’t have enough bus drivers to get the kids into the classroom,” said Carlisle. “I would call somewhat of a crisis, but our superintendent of schools [Dr. Almy Abeyta] was on top of the situation, notified the Committee about her plans, and I thought it was a good idea until we’re able to get more bus drivers. My understanding is that the National Guard is in training right now for bus driving.”