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Massachusetts National Guard Activated to Test Kids for COVID and Fill Mandate-Related Staffing Shortages

MASSACHUSETTS – On Tuesday afternoon, Governor Charlie Baker announced [1] that 450 National Guard troops would be activated within the state to administer COVID-19 tests to school children and help cover a Department of Corrections staffing shortage.

Of those activated, 200 will receive training this week and start administering [2] COVID-19 tests to kids in schools across the state on October 18.


In a press release announcing the activation, Baker said, “The Commonwealth has developed a nation-leading COVID-19 testing program to help K-12 students remain in school safely. Over 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.

“Since the beginning of the school year, results from pooled testing show pool positivity 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.”

The other 250 troops will be filling positions with the DOC due to a large number of agents anticipated to lose their jobs for non-compliance with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

They, too, will begin training this week and start to fill the roles when the deadline to comply with the order passes on October 17.

The press release read, “The availability of support from the National Guard will safeguard DOC operational continuity and continued access to services and programming for inmates. The DOC is further prepared to augment correction staff with the return of retired correction officers in addition to Guard personnel.”


“DOC staff has performed remarkably throughout the pandemic. As we continue to navigate an unprecedented public health crisis, well-being and safety remain our priority, and we appreciate the large number of staff who have submitted their vaccination attestation forms ahead of the deadline,” said DOC Commissioner Carol Mici. “We are grateful for the Guard’s assistance in supporting the DOC’s mission as we continue to encourage our staff to comply with the vaccination mandate.”

Baker assured in the press release, “These missions will not interfere with the Massachusetts National Guard’s ability to respond to and assist in emergencies within the Commonwealth.”

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The Massachusetts National Guard has about 8,500 soldiers and airmen [8], 80% of whom are in the state and ready to be activated.

Last month, Baker used 250 National Guard troops to drive buses [9] to get children to schools because of a shortage of licensed drivers.