Mass. National Guard is assisting Greenfield schools with COVID-19 | testing News

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  Mass.  National Guard is assisting Greenfield schools with COVID-19 | testing  News

Greenfield Public School Supt. Christine DeBarge said four guard members arrived on Tuesday and their stay is expected to be short term.

Greenfield Public Schools is one of the many districts in Massachusetts to get assistance with COVID-19 testing by the Mass. National Guard.

“So we are just very thankful they are able to help,” DeBarge explained.

Story Highlights

  • Members of the Massachusetts National Guard arrived this week at the Greenfield school district to help with COVID-19 testing.

  • GREENFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — Members of the Massachusetts National Guard arrived this week at the Greenfield school district to help with COVID-19 testing.

“We all recognized that it is one of the critical pieces of trying to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in schools…so the fact that the national guard was able to come in and allow us to get that process moving the way it’s intended is really important,” DeBarge noted.

On Thursday, Commissioner for Elementary and Secondary Education Jeffrey Riley said guard members are assisting in western Massachusetts, including Greenfield, Hampden-Wilbraham, and Northampton. The program was put in place by Governor Charlie Baker to help with COVID-19 testing staff shortages within school districts.

“Obviously, we are way ahead of the country as far as testing overall and ‘test and stay’ in particular. With that said, we have had some logistical challenges, CIC has had some of the staffing challenges I alluded to earlier, and I think some of those staffing challenges, to your point, have been located out in the western part of the state, which is part of the reason why the national guard has been called up to provide that support and make sure that we get our kids what they need,” Riley explained. DeBarge told Western Mass News that four guard members arrived on Tuesday to help with pooled testing.

“They have been at all of our schools, except for our Academy of Early Learning, which is a preschool,” DeBarge said. However, she said their stay is expected to be short-term.

“It is only meant to fill in until the new vendor is staffed and ready to start supporting us,” DeBarge added. DeBarge said talks with a vendor are underway.

DeBarge says the guard members are dressed in uniform, but are not armed. “There is a vendor that has been identified. They just need to finish onboard the staff that would be working here,” DeBarge noted.