MA Governor calls in the National Guard to drive students to school

Originally published at: MA Governor calls in the National Guard to drive students to school | Boing Boing


Not the only state dealing with a shortage. I’ve heard Maine is in the same boat, and some other friends in other states have chimed in on this, too. Lots of bus drivers were older, even over 65, and many chose not to bother going back instead of the possibility of getting sick and dying. And it’s part and parcel of a whole shift among workers in this country. Working yourself to death for peanuts is no longer going to fly.

Workers are gaining more power. This can only be good for workers. We’ll see how the monopolists, capitalists, and grifting wealthy lash back, which is inevitable.


It’s been said before when states called in their National Guard units to process unemployment claims: when the only government agency allowed to have adequate resources is the military, the military will be called in to deal with shortages of government resources.


The entirely predictable cock-up that is the fall 2021 semester of American K-12 schooling rolls along. A year ago I would have given something like this a pass. Now there are no excuses.


MD is in the same boat. Our county is sending out robo-calls pleading for people to apply to be bus drivers.

An entirely predictable outcome. Gee, people don’t want to be ferrying around tiny, undisciplined plague-carriers during an actual plague. What a surprise.

In a public commentary, I asked the school board if they would resign once kids started dying from infections they picked up because of in-school exposure. They didn’t respond, but it is there in the public record so I can point to it when the inevitable “no one could have predicted this” is bandied around when the inevitable starts happening.


Nice. I approve. I’m in Maryland as well, hadn’t heard we were having the same problems with bus drivers, but absolutely not surprised. My wife’s a teacher, and it’s been a mess in so many ways.


Once states decide it would be safer to leave unvaccinated kids in their own homes, I hope they’ll redirect these resources to help hospitals and HCWs.


How about pay bus drivers a good wage? And bonus pay for working under hazardous conditions like COVID. Nah that’s crazy talk…

Stephen Colbert Idk GIF by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert


There’s this aspect, but also… a lot of these drivers were out of work when schools went virtual. Not surprising that many moved on to other work.


The members will drive school transport vans known as 7D vehicles, which have a maximum of 11 seats, including the driver. The vans are primarily used for driving students with special needs, according to the Massachusetts National Guard.

Aw man, with that low capacity they may as well just bring them to school in the APC Stryker. Which would be AWESEOME. Kids would be up an hour early waiting for that thing to pick them up.


I’m all for masking in schools, as well as mandating vaccination for students who are eligible. If you’re saying we she go back to remote learning for all students under 12, though, then I have to respectfully disagree. Remote learning was a disaster, and the data around the risks of school transmission (in schools that care about safety) doesn’t justify it.


So that would be, roughly, approximately, none. HS sports are in full swing with no masking or distancing in the stands or among the participants, any effort to get kids to mask is greeted with threats of violence and conspiracy theory bullshit, and delta is much more effective at infecting kids than previous iterations. Was remote learning a disaster? Yes, yes it was. Is the current mess the only alternative? It should not be, but that seems to be the way things have played out. So let me ask, then. How many dead, hospitalized and disabled kids are sufficient before we need to find an alternative? Because we obviously have not reached that number yet.

Hospitalizations Associated with COVID-19 Among Children and Adolescents — COVID-NET, 14 States, March 1, 2020–August 14, 2021 | MMWR (


That’s a good point that I hadn’t thought about.

In our county, bus drivers make decent, though not great, pay, and unemployment is at enough of a level that driving a school bus should be an attractive option.

Of course, it takes time to qualify for the class of license required to drive a school bus, and the county has some strict personnel requirements and vetting. (All of which I heartily endorse.) It may be there are applicants in the works, but it will take time to get them on-stream, but there is a general driver shortage in the US, and not just for public transportation. (The general shortage isn’t pandemic related, either. Just exacerbated. props to @Grey_Devil - pay is mentioned in the article, though as usual the last point for a FPC.)

(edited for clarity)


My deepest sympathies and great respect to her. Teachers are an undervalued resource, and I’d happily double my property tax to pay them what they deserve.


I’d initially thought maybe the reason they were having trouble finding adequate drivers was that some businesses rebounding from Covid were competing heavily for workers and offering better pay and poaching the usual bus driver pool. Which might be part of it.

But someone recently suggested that a bunch of Boston bus drivers were Haitian, and had returned to Haiti to try and help after the recent disasters there. Which, if true, wouldn’t surprise me as being a factor as well.


This is true, but merely exacerbated by the plague, not caused by it. A while ago TPTB decided to get bus drivers off the school staff rolls and contract that out. We’ve had staffing problems ever since.
Wisely (huge /s) “they” then decided to go the same route with local ambulances. Super awesome. Free market and all that. :roll_eyes:


The district where I teach is doing okay, but the district where I live is in bussing chaos, as are the large nearby districts. In our state bus drivers cannot collect unemployment, are paid around 15$ an hour, and have split shifts and no work in the summer. Good luck hiring anyone.


Most things are a disaster when there is virtually no official effort to organize or improve them, and instead those involved just continually cross their fingers that it’s all going to be over soon.


The real underlying problem is low-densitiy living in the US. Families with kids should live in walkable neighbourhoods where kids can walk to school, not in suburbian sprawls where everything requires transportation of some kind.

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Same issue in my city and various others in the area. Because I’ve had several conversations with the really nice guy who runs transportation for our district, I learned just how desperate they were. FWIW, our district offered (and still does) ~$20/hr starting pay, free medical/dental, and decent number of other benefits. This year they were still down nearly 30 needed drivers. A neighboring school district is in a similar bind, and that’s with the same benefits plus a $2000 signing bonus.

This meant that they simply could not get all the kids to school. We were one of the families impacted. The guy who had to call us seriously sounded like he wanted to cry. He basically told us that our 3rd grader was going to have to walk the slightly more than a mile to school as they were doing by the greatest distance. This had a fall down effect as we then had to find a ride to and from school for her every day. Spent a month calling, begging, and bribing every family member we could and I still needed to go to my boss and tell them I had to work 2 days/week remote to get her around.

We were on the nightly news a week or so ago since they are so strapped on drivers they have no backups. In the event a bus driver is out, they are using Uber to get kids to school.