HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Five more school districts will now also be receiving help from the National Guard after many communities have been facing a shortage of school bus drivers.
Friday one western Mass. city has been added to that list.
The National Guard announced Holyoke will be one of the five additional cities utilizing their services.
The Holyoke school district will be one of now nine communities across Massachusetts using members of the Massachusetts National Guard to drive some of their school buses.
On Monday, Governor Charlie Baker activating up to 250 National Guard personnel to assist with transportation for school districts in the Bay state facing a shortage of bus drivers.
Holyoke is the lone western Mass. school district announced so far, joining Chelsea, Lowell, Lynn, and Lawrence announced earlier this week.
And Friday Brockton, Framingham, Quincy, and Woburn also receiving help from the guard.
The Executive Office of Public Safety released a statement that reads part quote, "This week, more than 190 members of the guard completed the driver’s certification process to operate transport vans known as 7D vehicles. in accordance with school transportation worker requirements, the orientation process included vehicle training, background screening, as well as a thorough review of all health and safety measures."
Holyoke Public Schools Receiver/Superintendent Anthony Soto tells Western Mass News he reached out to the state for help when last week one specialized van vendor could not keep up with the district's needs. He said the national guard assistance will help get students to school who would otherwise not have the means to get there.
In addition to the drivers, 40 members were activated to provide support for the mission. and Baker has stressed these busing duties will not interfere with the guard's ability to respond to other major state emergencies.
Now it is not clear how long the guard will be assisting these school districts or exactly when these drivers will begin in Holyoke.