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Mass. National Guard Tapped To Drive Students To School, As Bus Driver Shortages Continue

Massachusetts is calling in the National Guard to help get kids to school.

Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday said he will activate up to 250 guardsmen to help drive "7D" school vans for schoolchildren in Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell and Lynn.

"As with any school transportation worker, all activated Guard personnel will complete vehicle training to ensure the safety of children and families," Baker's office said in a statement. "Drivers will meet all statutory requirements for 7D drivers. Throughout the mission, the Guard will comply with all health and safety measures."

School bus drivers remain in short supply across the state at a time when several industries are facing stark labor shortages. In Boston, some students waited up to an hour at their bus stops for delayed route drivers. The district said just 57% of buses made it to school "on time," which it defined as before the bell to start the day.

During a candidate's debate held Thursday at WBUR's CitySpace, acting Mayor Kim Janey touted that figure, saying the district outperformed its five-year average for on-time busing.

Baker has insisted for months that Bay State pupils must attend school in person this fall after more than a year learning through remote or partially in-person schedules.

"Schools have a certain number of days baked into their calendar that they are allowed to miss, and I think our view at this point is in-person learning is where we should be and where we should stay," Baker said last Wednesday, "and anybody who isn't vaccinated who's eligible should get vaccinated and take advantage of these clinics we've put up."

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Roberto Scalese Twitter Senior Editor, Digital
Roberto Scalese is a senior editor for digital.

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