The National Guard will now help students get to school in 13 school districts across Massachusetts, after state public safety officials on Thursday announced an expansion of the program to also cover four more communities.
They are Haverhill, Revere, Worcester and the Wachusett Regional School District, according to according to the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security
Amid a national shortage of school bus drivers, Gov. Charlie Baker last month activated the Guard to drive school transport vans known as 7D vehicles in districts that had requested help.
The initiative began with four districts -- Chelsea, Lowell, Lawrence and Lynn -- and Baker at the time said the state would "try to serve as many communities as we can because obviously the goal here is to try to make sure if we have vehicles, we put people in them who are qualified to drive them and do what we can to make sure kids can get to school."
The National Guard is also providing school transportation support in Brockton, Framingham, Holyoke, Quincy and Woburn, officials said.
Baker's order made up to 250 Guard members available, and so far, the administration said that more than 190 members have completed the driver's certification process to operate the vans. Another roughly 40 Guard members are activated to provide operational support.
Officials have said that members of the National Guard will likely drive the buses until December, hopefully giving bus companies enough time to get and train more drivers.