Hundreds of members of the Massachusetts National Guard have been activated to help support the testing of Kindergarten through 12th-grade students across the Commonwealth.
Gov. Charlie Baker issued an order on Tuesday, Oct. 12 enlisting up to 450 members of the state’s National Guard to help support two missions.
The Governor’s orders activate up to 200 members of the Guard to support COVID-19 testing in K-12 schools throughout the Commonwealth and up to 250 members to offset potential staffing shortages at the Department of Correction (DOC).
“We are grateful that the National Guard has stepped up once again, as they have throughout the COVID-19 response, to serve the Commonwealth where needed,” Baker stated.
According to Baker, more than 2,200 schools have currently signed up to participate in at least one of three types of testing: test and stay, symptomatic testing, and pooled testing.
Baker noted that since the beginning of the school year, results from pooled testing show positive infection rates of less than 1 percent, and test and stay, which is used to test close contacts, has saved approximately 25,000 school days for students who would have otherwise had to quarantine.
“We are very thankful to the men and women of the National Guard for their assistance to help school districts handle some operational challenges in order to continue to keep students, teachers, and staff safe,” Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley stated.
“The National Guard was there when we needed them to drive some children to school due to a nationwide bus driver shortage, and now we are thankful they are once again willing to serve the children of the Commonwealth with COVID-19 testing.”
To bolster the number of tests being administered, the 200 members of the National Guard will be utilized to expand testing, with their training beginning this week and deployment to select schools on Monday, Oct. 18 to begin testing.
“Today’s activations will ensure that we have additional staffing support for our school testing programs to help kids stay safe and will allow DOC to respond to possible staffing shortages,” Baker added.
"While we are overall pleased with the progress we are seeing with Commonwealth employees submitting vaccination attestations, we will take whatever steps are necessary to safely run all correctional facilities.”
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