Massachusetts National Guard to help school districts impacted by school bus driver shortage

BOSTON — As school districts across the U.S. are facing bus driver shortages, one state is tapping the National Guard to help.

Starting Tuesday, Sept. 14, nearly 100 members of the Massachusetts National Guard will begin training sessions to serve as school bus drivers and assist communities impacted by school bus driver shortages.

According to a statement released by the office of public safety and security of Massachusetts Gov. Charles D. Baker, 90 Guard members will "prepare for service in Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell and Lynn" and up to 250 personnel will be available for the assignment.

"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," the statement read. "All activated Guard personnel will complete vehicle training to ensure the safety of children and families."

The statement also said that the National Guard will comply with all health and safety measures.

Other states experiencing school bus driver shortages include Pennsylvania, Virginia, Missouri, Ohio and Texas. While the reasons for the shortage are varied, Curt Macysyn executive director for the National School Transportation Association, which represents private school bus contractors, told ABC News in August that health concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic have played a role.

"During COVID, people chose their health over a position," Macysyn said. "With the delta variant, I think some folks who might have considered a return are probably gonna stay on the sidelines a bit longer."

For now, Macsyn said parents are being forced to find alternative modes of transportation to get their kids to school each morning, such as having family members take them, carpooling, or having students walk or bike. At the same time, schools are having to consolidate or remove routes.

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