By Ely Schosek
According to the Springville-Griffith Institute district calendars, the week of Sept. 9 was to be observed as Bus Safety Week. Most students hear “bus safety” and think bus drills, but what else goes on during the week that we don’t know of?
SGI’s Head of Transportation Ann Rugg described bus safety week beyond what the students experience, noting that for those in the transportation department, bus safety training happens every day.
“Drivers are encouraged to discuss bus safety with their students everyday. They provide instructions to students as they get on and off the bus every day,” Rugg said. “They discuss safe behavior on the bus and discuss bus rules including no bullying and what to do if they see something happening.”
School Bus Safety Week really just means additional training on topics such as “safe loading and unloading procedures, particularly safe crossing, and emergency evacuations.” One day of the week, all buses are postponed at the middle school. The drivers keep all their students on the bus and discuss bus safety with them such as exit locations, safe crossing, proper behavior and where to stand when waiting for the bus.
Once all buses arrive, dispatch will give an okay over the radio, which begins the drill. During the drill, all students must exit the bus via one of the previously designated routes, leaving their belongings on the bus.
Some drivers allow students out the front or back doors and some just one or the other — it’s up to them. Students who exit out the back are told to sit down and slide off — no jumping. After all buses have completed the drill, students can get back on the bus and retrieve their belongings before heading into the school.
“Throughout the school year we will be engaging with students and parents to promote school bus safety,” Rugg noted. “We are planning an assembly in February during Love the Bus Month where drivers will speak to students about bus safety.”
School Transportation Appreciation Week in May means an annual breakfast to honor the drivers’ “hard work and dedication to student safety.”
“There is a focus on illegally passing the bus with the red lights flashing,” Rugg said. “In the past, we have teamed up several times throughout the year with the Erie County Sheriff’s Department through our SRO’s to educate the public on proper behavior for motorists around the bus.
“It’s important to inform the public about school bus safety and that is where much of the focus is during National School bus safety week,” she continued.
Students also experience a school bus day where they learn how to “approach and behave around the bus from both the bus driver and motorist perspective.” Every student has the right to arrive at school safe and ready to learn.
“It is our job to provide that for them,” Rugg said.
Although everyone in the transportation department has a different purpose, one aspect every job has in common is the importance of the students’ safety, which is at the forefront of everything they do every day.
“As all bus drivers say, ‘Those are my kids!’” she added.