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School buses on a lot at Washington St. and Melnea Cass Blvd. on Aug. 29, 2019 in Boston. Photo: Chris Christo/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) on Monday activated the state's National Guard to assist with school transportation.

Driving the news: Schools across the country are experiencing a shortage of bus drivers, which has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic. More than 80% of school districts reported having issued finding an adequate number of drivers.

State of play: Baker said in a press release that 250 guard personnel will become available for the task.

  • They will need to complete vehicle training "to ensure the safety of children and families."
  • Training is scheduled to start Tuesday, with 90 guard members being sent to help in the cities of Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell and Lynn.
  • The guard members will operate vans known as "7D vehicles," which are smaller than regular school buses.

What they're saying: "The Guard has a proven track record of success supporting civilian authorities. Their frequent side-by-side training with state and local first responders makes them well-suited for a variety of missions," Baker said.

Of note: The governor said that the mission will not interfere with the National Guard's ability to respond to emergencies within the state.

Go deeper

Dec 22, 2021 - Health

FDA authorizes first pill to treat COVID at home

Paxlovid. Photo courtesy of Pfizer Inc.

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized Pfizer's antiviral pill for the treatment of individuals at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Why it matters: At-home COVID-19 treatments, especially Pfizer's Paxlovid, are seen as possible game-changers for the pandemic. The emergency use authorization comes as the U.S. sees a surge in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations largely driven by the Omicron variant.

Harris tests negative after contact with staff member who has COVID

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris tested negative for COVID-19 on Wednesday after being in contact with a staff member who has tested positive for the virus, according to a statement released on Wednesday afternoon.

Driving the news: "As a part of that regular testing, the Vice President received an antigen test this morning and tested negative," said Symone Sanders, Harris' senior adviser and chief spokesperson, adding that Harris also received a PCR test that came back negative.

Dec 22, 2021 - World

NHL players won't participate in Beijing Olympics due to COVID

Photo: Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

The NHL announced Wednesday that the league's players will not participate in the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Why it matters: The move comes amid a surge in coronavirus infections, largely driven by the newly discovered Omicron variant, and after the league announced that it would briefly postpone all NHL games through Christmas.

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