BOSTON (WWLP) – Governor Charlie Baker announced on Monday that he is activating the National Guard to help schools that are facing a bus driver shortage.
Starting on Tuesday, 90 members of the state’s National Guards will be assisting in the school districts of Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell, and Lynn. Baker’s executive order comes after dozens of schools in the Commonwealth complained that they can’t find enough people to shuttle students to and from school.
The governor’s order will make up to 250 guard members available to school districts across the state and more could be called into action if necessary.
“The goal here is to try to make sure if we have vehicles we put people in them who are qualified to drive them and do what we can to make sure kids can get to school cause obviously the driver shortage is creating some real issues,” Baker said.
The governor added that many National Guard members already have CDL licenses however they will have to go through training in order to drive students to and from school. Right now, support is only being offered to four school districts all of which are located in the eastern part of the state.
Here in the western part of the state, some parents worry a driver shortage may mean more kids on the bus.
“I think it’s pretty dangerous,” said Derek Washington of Springfield. “Not just for the Covid but just for the fact if there’s an accident on a school bus or if there fight.”
Local bus companies are also looking for people to fill in. 22News spoke with a worker from The Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative at a job fair in West Springfield last week, and she says they were looking to fill positions for the new school year.
“Through the pandemic, we had drivers that didn’t drive,” said Patty Miolla of Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative. “And now we are coming back into the bus season and we do need drivers. We are down a couple and we are looking for some people.”
Baker said he is open to expanding the program out west.