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The governor of Massachusetts on Monday activated the state’s National Guard to help with busing students to school, a growing issue in states across the country.
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said 250 Guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans. They’ll begin training Tuesday, with some 90 of them to be initially deployed in four diverse cities north of Boston – Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell, and Lynn.
The Guard troops will complete vehicle training like any school transportation worker and operate transport vans known as “7D vehicles,” not the familiar yellow school buses, according to the governor’s office.
'The shortage isn't going away': COVID-19 pandemic amplifies school bus driver shortage concerns
It’s not clear how long the Guard would be helping with busing or how many districts would receive assistance. But Baker stressed the busing duties won’t interfere with the Guard’s ability to respond to other major state emergencies.
“The Guard has a proven track record of success supporting civilian authorities,” Baker said in a statement. “Their frequent side-by-side training with state and local first responders makes them well-suited for a variety of missions.”
The shortage of school bus drivers isn't limited to Massachusetts.
In Rochester, New York, a school district had plans to begin the school year remote due to numerous bus driver resignations. They ultimately decided to have in-person learning, but asked parents to drive their kids to school or have them walk.
The shortages have affected large amount of children, including those with disabilities who had been guaranteed bus service.
In one Oregon school district, the first day of school was delayed after an employee died from COVID-19 and some bus drivers had to quarantine. Last week, Milwaukee Public Schools said the district was about 100 drivers short for its fleet of 700 buses.
In Gloucester County, New Jersey, the Glassboro School District has cut its school days short by approximately 45 minutes for middle and high school students due to a lack of bus drivers.
As of Monday afternoon, the U.S. has recorded 41.1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 661,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. More than 178 million Americans – 53.8% of the population – have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Contributing: The Associated Press.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Massachusetts National Guard drive kids to school during bus shortage