With all the concerns about sending students back to school this fall while the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to rage, it seems that Massachusetts lawmakers overlooked one particular important bit of infrastructure: the people needed to drive the school buses that bring students in. In Boston, for example, only about half of the students arrived on time for the first day of school. The city of Worcester outright shuttered its after-school programs due to lack of transportation. Smaller cities like Chelsea are also suffering, with twenty percent of their fleet running late because of drivers being forced to pull double-duty.
So Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker decided to do something about it: call the National Guard.
From the Boston Globe:
Governor Charlie Baker activated the Massachusetts National Guard Monday to assist with school transportation, starting in four cities.
Up to 250 personnel will be available, with 90 Guard members slated to begin training on Tuesday to help with transportation in the Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell, and Lynn school systems, according to a statement from the state's Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.
The members will drive school transport vans known as 7D vehicles, which have a maximum of 11 seats, including the driver. The vans are primarily used for driving students with special needs, according to the Massachusetts National Guard. Bus monitors will be required to be aboard each vehicle.
Not quite the typical function I'd expect for the state militia, but it's certainly a solution. And I suppose I'm glad to see our uniformed soldiers fighting for the youth of America in a much more direct way than usual.
Baker activates National Guard to address school transportation staffing shortages [Felicia Gans and Jenna Russell / The Boston Globe]
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