Schools

Massachusetts sends National Guard to help with school transportation in 5 more cities

The effort is continuing to expand.

A National Guard member drives a school bus around the base with a safety trainer in Reading. David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe

The number of Massachusetts cities in which the National Guard has been called in to help take kids to school is about to grow.

Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration announced Friday afternoon that the National Guard will assist with transporting students in Brockton, Framingham, Holyoke, Quincy, and Woburn, following requests for help from local officials.

The news comes after Baker activated up to 250 National Guard members Monday to help with school transportation in Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell, and Lynn, in the wake of a long-running bus driver shortage exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials said Friday that more than 190 members of the Guard completed the driver’s certification process this week to operate transport vans known as 7D vehicles. The process includes vehicle training, background screening, and a review of all health and safety measures.

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Another 40 or so members have been activated to provide operational support.

The expansion Friday does not include the state’s largest school district, Boston Public Schools, which struggled with bus delays on the first day of school last week. School officials said that more than 40 percent of buses did not make it in time for the opening bell; some simply never arrived.

Baker told reporters Monday that the state offered Guard help to Boston and that local officials replied that “they were going to think about it.”

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