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Massachusetts National Guard Activated To Help With COVID Testing At Schools, Possible Staff Shortages At Prisons

BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has ordered the National Guard to help with possible staff shortages in the state's prison system and COVID testing at schools.

Baker issued the orders Tuesday afternoon. One will activate 250 members of the Guard to help the Department of Corrections, which could lose some positions by October 17, when all state employees will be required to prove they've been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Job training will begin immediately. They won't be replacing prison guards who could lose their jobs if they're not vaccinated.

"Under this contingency plan, Guard personnel will assume external functions which do not involve direct contact with inmates. When Guard personnel assist with providing transportation to inmates, a correctional officer will accompany them," Baker's office said in a statement.

"The DOC is further prepared to augment correction staff with the return of retired correction officers in addition to Guard personnel."

The other order calls for 200 members of the Guard to help schools across the state with expanded COVID-19 testing. They'll start training this week and start working in selected schools on Monday, October 18.

Last month, Baker activated the Massachusetts National Guard to help with the state's shortage of school bus drivers.

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