The shortage of school bus drivers in Massachusetts is so severe that Governor Charlie Baker has called in state National Guard troops to help bring the children to class.
Baker announced Monday that up to 250 members of the Massachusetts National Guard will be made available to operate school bus routes. Driver training was scheduled to begin Tuesday for 90 Guard soldiers in the towns of Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell and Lynn.
“As with any school bus worker, all activated child care staff will undergo vehicle training to keep children and families safe.” said Boulanger. He added that the troops will meet all legal requirements to drive 7D transport vans and comply with all health and safety measures.
Help will come quickly. The Lowell School District reportedly expects 15 members of the Guard to be available to operate bus lines by the end of this week, and they will remain on duty until enough permanent drivers can be hired. to fill vacant positions.
School districts across the United States have struggled to hire enough bus drivers, even as millions of Americans remain unemployed amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The districts of Helena, Montana, and Savannah, Ga., Offer bonuses of $ 4,000 to new drivers, while a Delaware elementary school pays parents $ 700 per student to drive their own children to and from school.
Driver shortages are common in normal times, but the pandemic has exacerbated the problem as many workers retired or found another career after being put on leave when classes moved online last year . The Boston Globe reported that more than 1,200 buses ran late in the city last Thursday, the first day of the new school year.
Baker insisted that the bus driving mission would not interfere with the National Guard’s ability to respond to other types of emergencies in the state.
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