National Guard to help with Holyoke school transportation starting Tuesday | News
HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — Starting Tuesday, some Massachusetts National Guard members will be on-duty as school bus drivers in Holyoke due to a bus driver shortage that’s impacting several communities around the Bay State.
Holyoke is one of at least five school districts that is receiving support from the Mass. National Guard.
“I don’t really think it’s the district’s fault as much as people aren’t applying,” said Tahara Baldwin of Holyoke.
Baldwin has a son in the Holyoke school system, one of the districts struggling with a bus driver shortage. However, the state is sending in the troops for support as members of the guard get ready to report for duty as school bus drivers. It’s something Baldwin welcomes.
“Well, I love the military. It would make me feel great because at least I know they’re prepared to handle any situation,” Baldwin added.
Western Mass News reached out to Holyoke Public Schools and received the following statement:
“We are thankful that our yellow bus company has a sufficient number of drivers, but our provider for specialized transportation for out-of-district transportation is experiencing driver shortages. Van Pool is actively hiring and training drivers.”
We’re also learned guard members were doing practice runs on Monday and will starting transporting students on Tuesday. We’re also told six guard members will cover six different routes and they will be driving students who attend out-of-district schools, experience housing instability, are in foster care, and students who require other specialized transportation.
Interim Holyoke Mayor Terry Murphy is optimistic about the guard helping out, but he hopes job seekers see the open job opportunities.
“I’m thankful the National Guard is willing to do it. My hope is that we will have a number of Holyoke residents that might recognize there’s a job opportunity here,” Murphy explained.
However, his main objective is to make sure kids get to and from school.
“We’re just trying to make sure that we get kids to school because we do have to get our kids to school. We cannot have kids missing school,” Murphy noted.