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Column: Working together for bus safety

By Cory Van Briesen, District 518

WORTHINGTON — With summer quickly coming to an end for ISD 518 staff and students, the school — along with the bus company — are gearing up for another school year. This includes making sure that transportation schedules and routes are established. Bud’s Bus Company, who handles the busing for District 518, works diligently to ensure all students make it to and from school safely each day.

On any given school day, approximately 2,600 District 518 students will ride one of the 26 buses or 11 school vans enroute to and from school. The first day of the 2018-2019 school year for middle school, high school, and ALC school students is Tuesday, Sept. 4. Prairie Elementary will enter their classrooms for the first time on Wednesday, Sept. 5.

Students who plan to use bus transportation are encouraged to ride the bus beginning the first day of school to facilitate the establishment of the time schedule and the busload. Since routes are based on estimated fall enrollments, school officials remind parents/guardians and students to expect minor adjustments in bus loads and schedules during the first weeks of school in order to establish timely routes and alleviate any overcrowded buses.

In order for bus drivers to stay on schedule and for students to avoid missing the bus, parents are encouraged to have their child at their designated pick-up spot five minutes prior to their scheduled pick-up time. The afternoon return time to home for each bus may be later at the beginning of the school year to accommodate students adjusting to new school settings. Once the schedule has been established, there will be a normal drop-off time for each student.

Within the first weeks of school, Bud’s Bus Company, along with classroom teachers, provides bus safety training to all students. This training provides students with an overview of the rules, as well as what to do in emergency situations. They discuss bus safety facts, the safety zones surrounding the bus and the correct way to cross the street. Students have the opportunity to practice proper boarding of a bus, in addition to how to evacuate a bus in the event of an emergency situation. This instruction is the foundation for developing a safe and positive atmosphere on our busses.

Parents and guardians are also valuable instructors in bus safety. An area of concern each year is children not using their designated locations to cross the street safely. We ask that parents discuss this important matter with their children. Additionally, we ask that families be responsible for becoming familiar with school district rules, policies and regulations concerning school bus safety. Forms are provided to all parents which are required to be signed and returned to show they have reviewed and understand the district’s bus safety policy and procedures. These rules and policies can be viewed on the district’s website. It is important that caregivers review these expectations with their children and reinforce what is taught in school. Parents are also encouraged to communicate concerns to the school. Communication between the school, parents and transportation staff is vital in maintaining a safe environment on the school buses, especially when students are not meeting the expectations that have been set. Parental input is highly valued and necessary to help keep our students safe.

The school district believes in an “all hands on deck” approach when educating our students about bus safety. It takes many teachers, school administrators, students, transportation staff and parents working together to make sure this trip is a safe and pleasant one. Our goal is to work together to ensure a positive school bus experience for all District 518 students. When the established rules are followed and regulations are implemented, our students are able to be safely transported to school and back home again.

Cory Van Briesen is assistant principal at Prairie Elementary.