Baker Activates Massachusetts National Guard To Help Us Out
Here's the latest from Governor Charlie Baker: He's activating up to 450 members of the National Guard to not only assist with COVID-19 testing in Massachusetts schools but also help offset staffing shortages within the Commonwealth's prison system.
According to Mass.gov, up to 200 members of the Massachusetts National Guard will be assisting to support COVID-19 testing in K-12 schools. The orders will also activate up to 250 members to offset potential staffing shortages at the Department of Correction.
Massachusetts has developed a nation-leading COVID-19 testing program to help K-12 students remain in school safely. Over 2,200 schools have signed up to participate in at least one of three types of testing:
- Test and stay
- Symptomatic testing
- Pooled testing
Since the beginning of the school year, results from pooled testing show pool positivity rates of less than 1 percent. Test and stay, which is used to test close contacts, has saved approximately 25,000 school days for students who would have had to quarantine.
As these testing programs continue to ramp up, members of the National Guard will be activated to expand testing support at schools across the Bay State. Members of the Guard will begin training this week and starting October 18, in selected schools, will begin administering COVID-19 testing.
And, as the October 17 deadline for all executive department employees to demonstrate proof of vaccination draws closer, Guard members will begin training this week to assist the Department of Corrections, if necessary, with transportation and exterior security functions.
Here's what Governor Baker had to say in a media statement:
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. 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. 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.
For more on the story and to see the actual executive order, visit mass.gov's website here.