By Staff

BOSTON (CBS) – Dozens of Massachusetts National Guard members are now ready to help students get to school as districts deal with a bus driver shortage.

The Massachusetts National Guard was activated earlier this week. Up to 250 members will be available to cities and towns.

They will be able to drive school transport vans, known as 7D vehicles.

John McCarthy of North Reading Transportation said the company was down about 350 employees as of three weeks ago.

“These folks went off and found other jobs. We also had a little bit of a challenge with the unemployment extended to where it is. But we’re seeing a lot of candidates coming through the door now,” he said.

Members of the Massachusetts National Guard train to help with a school bus driver shortage. (WBZ-TV)

On Tuesday, 75 National Guard members began going through fingerprinting, classroom exams and a road test in order to earn their 7D certifications.

As of Wednesday, 67 were certified and could drive as early as Thursday to assist school districts in Chelsea, Lowell and Lynn.

An additional 65 members are undergoing training Wednesday and will likely be able to drive students in Lawrence beginning on Monday.

“These folks will be in uniform, meeting kids just like bus drivers do. Bringing them to school. They’re really excited about this mission,” McCarthy said. Staff