Some Chelsea Public Schools students north of Boston will soon be greeted by soldiers behind the wheel of their school buses.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker summoned 250 National Guard troops on Monday to fill in as school bus drivers, as the state is reeling from a shortage that is affecting most of the U.S.
Chelsea Public Schools announced that 15 troops will be driving North Reading Transportation school bus routes. Superintendent Almi G. Abeyta published a letter to parents on Twitter Monday explaining the troops will be in uniform but will not be armed. They also start school bus-specific training on Tuesday.
Abeyta added that the troops will not start driving 7D school vans on routes until that training is completed. “All drivers will meet all state and local health and safety measures,” he relayed.
Abeyta also wrote that the National Guard troops will be accompanied on their routes by bus monitors.
“This will ensure that students are picked up for school on time and returned home on time, so that they can have a productive day in school,” he said.
According to local reports, National Guard troops will also be dispatched to at least three other school districts — Lawrence Public Schools, Lowell Public Schools, and Lynn Public Schools.
It is common for National Guard troops to hold commercial driver’s licenses and drive school buses as passenger carriers on military bases or in times of natural disasters.
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