FRAMINGHAM, MA -- On Monday, September 13, 2021, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker activated the Massachusetts National Guard to help with busing students to school as districts and transportation providers across the country struggle to hire enough CDL (yellow school bus) and 7D (van) drivers.
After hearing about this option for selected school districts in Massachusetts, Dr. Robert Tremblay, Superintendent of the Framingham Public Schools, personally reached out to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner to be included in this effort to address the Framingham Public Schools (FPS) bus driver shortage. Within 24 hours, the FPS request was reviewed and approved.
In the coming days, (20) National Guard drivers and non-military passenger vans will be assigned to work with city transportation vendor NRT Bus and the Framingham Public Schools Transportation Department to support students across the City.
A few important rules about this creative solution offered by Governor Baker and the DESE through the National Guard:
- National Guard drivers will only be allowed to transport students to and from school, not extracurricular activities;
- The National Guard is only offering drivers for vans (called 7D because of licensing), they are not able to drive yellow school buses as drivers must be licensed as commercial drivers (CDL).
- National Guard drivers will be dressed in their assigned uniforms (military fatigues). They will not be carrying any weapons;
- Before the National Guard drivers can begin, they will receive the required 7D training and certification through the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV);
- National Guard drivers must have clean Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI), Sex Offender Registry Information (SORI), and Fingerprinting records as required by Massachusetts law and regulations for school bus drivers.
- All National Guard operated vehicles will also be staffed by trained monitors provided by FPS and NRT.
- Unless families are contacted by Framingham Public Schools, bus routes will continue as previously scheduled.
This temporary support will allow the district to transport students to and from school each day and in a more timely manner, but the real solution to our long-term transportation needs is the addition of CDL licensed school bus drivers through NRT Bus. We are grateful to our local and state partners for recognizing the challenges we’ve faced and supporting us with this creative temporary staffing solution.
The Massachusetts National Guard assistance to Framingham demonstrates its community-based legacy of serving the Commonwealth in times of need since 1636 both at home and abroad through community support. Framingham is proud to be the home of a National Guard Armory and very appreciative of our state-level partners for coordinating this unique support. The Framingham Public Schools are grateful to the National Guard members assisting us with our transportation needs as well as to their families and civilian employers.
Source: Press Release by Framingham Public Schools