Amid School Bus Driver Shortages, National Guard Troops Step In

Amid School Bus Driver Shortages, National Guard Troops Step In

( – Children returned to classroom teaching in August after more than a year of remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with the ongoing Delta variant, many school districts are experiencing a shortage of bus drivers. To tackle this issue, one governor came up with the idea of calling up National Guard to assist.

On Monday, September 13, Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker announced his decision to call up members of the Commonwealth’s National Guard to provide transportation services for school children.

Baker explained that 90 guard members would start a brief training program beginning on Tuesday, September 14. They would be dispatched to four of the Commonwealth’s districts suffering the greatest shortages of bus drivers. A total of 250 guard members will eventually be deployed throughout Massachusetts.

The temporary drivers will use 7D vehicles, a reference to the Massachusetts law authorizing the use of alternative vehicles for the transport of school children. Typically, state officials use station wagons and vans as 7D vehicles.

Under 7D regulations, alternate vehicles:

  • Must be 2018 models or newer with an installed child reminder system.
  • Can have a maximum seating capacity of 11, including the driver.
  • Cannot exceed a gross vehicle weight rating over 10,000 pounds.
  • Must have an audible backup alarm, fire extinguisher, and other standard emergency equipment.

As Gov. Baker noted, the Massachusetts National Guard has a proven track record of supporting civilian authorities in a time of need.

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